New edited collection explores Indigenous and Black communities in Latin America

Miguel Valerio, assistant professor of Spanish, and Javiera Jaque, PhD ’17, co-edited a new collection of essays about lay Catholic brotherhoods in Latin America. Indigenous and Black Confraternities in Latin America: Negotiating Status through Religious Practices (Amsterdam University Press, 2022) is the first English-language book about the way that Indigenous and Black communities resisted Spanish imperial control in Latin American colonies. 

The essays in the collection explore the cultural practices of Indigenous and Black communities that use religious devotion as a means of resisting the imperial and racial hierarchies imposed upon them by colonial authorities. In doing so, the volume presents a variety of perspectives on the intersection of ethnic identity and ritual devotion.

“We knew that such a collection would have an impact on scholarship on Indigenous and Afro-descendants in the colonial period,” said Valerio, “because it would show how these two groups used collective religious/political action to fashion full lives.”

Miguel Valerio and Javiera Jaque

Valerio and Jaque began collaborating as graduate students at the annual Modern Language Association conference in 2017, when both were in their final year of graduate school. They shared methodological approaches, with Valerio was completing a dissertation about colonial Catholic brotherhoods and Jaque researching Jesuit missions in the Araucanía in the 17th century. Shortly after Jaque completed her doctorate at WashU, Valerio joined the same department she had just left as a teaching fellow. They later organized a panel at the 2017 Mid-America Conference on Hispanic Literature, held in St. Louis, that brought together a group of scholars writing about Catholic confraternities in Latin America that would eventually lead to their new edited collection.  

“This volume is the first to collectively address the religious sodalities or confraternities that marginalized racial and ethnic groups formed during the colonial period in Latin America,” said Stephanie Kirk, professor of Spanish, comparative literature, and women, gender, and sexuality studies. “It is unusual to find a collection with such a broad transamerican scope and one that looks at both Indigenous and Afro-Latin American groups together.”

More information about Indigenous and Black Confraternities in Latin America can be found at the University of Amsterdam Press website.