Sexuality and Marriage in Colonial Latin America

TitleSexuality and Marriage in Colonial Latin America
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication1989
Series EditorLavrín, Asunción
Number of Pages350
PublisherUniversity of Nebraska Press

A very fine collection of studies on the interaction of the genders in the colonial period--the process that bound men and women in personal relationships before the formation of the family, and the social and religious mechanisms that attempted to regulate them. “Few decisions in life should be more personal than the choice of a spouse or lover. Yet, throughout history, this intimate experience has been subjected to painstaking social and religious regulation in the form of legislation and restraining social mores.” With that statement, Asunción Lavrin begins her introduction to this collection of original essays, the first in English to explore sexuality and marriage in colonial Latin America. The nine contributors, including historians and anthropologists, examine various aspects of the male-female relationship and the mechanisms for controlling it developed by church and state after the European conquest of Mexico and Central and South America. Seldom has so much light been shed on the sexual behavior of the men and women who lived there from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century. These chapters examine the variety of sexual expression in different periods and among persons of different social and economic status, the relations of the sexes as proscribed by church and state and the various forms of resistance to their constraints, the couple’s own view of the bond that united them and of their social obligations in producing a family, and the dissolution of that bond. Topics infrequently explored in Latin American history but discussed her include premarital relations, illegitimacy, consensual unions, sexual witchcraft, spouse abuse, and divorce.

Original PublicationSexualidad y matrimonio en la América hispánica, siglos XVI-XVII
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