• Colonial Habits: Convents and the Spiritual Economy of Cuzco, Peru

    Author(s):
    Pages: 320
    Illustrations: 10 illustrations, 2 maps
    Sales/Territorial Rights: World
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    978-0-8223-2259-7
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  • Acknowledgments ix

    Introduction 1

    Part One Founding Acts

    Chapter 1 Gender and the Politics of Mestizaje 15

    Chapter 2 The Dilemmas of Dominio: Reconciling Poverty and Property 41

    Chapter 3 Forasteras Become Cuzquenas 70

    Part Two Zenith

    Chapter 4 Reproducing Colonial Cuzco 101

    Chapter 5 Producing Colonial Cuzco 132

    Part Three Crisis and Decline

    Chapter 6 Breaking Faith 157

    Chapter 7 Surviving Republicanism 186

    Epilogue 212

    Appendixes 217

    Notes 235

    Glossary 281

    Works Cited 285

    Index 297
  • Winner, John Gilmary Shea Award, presented by American Catholic Historical Association

    Winner, 2000 Hagley Prize (Business History Conference and the Hagley Museum & Library)

    Winner, EMW Book Award (presented by Society for the Study of Early Modern Women)

  • Colonial Habits breaks new ground on the social and economic role of female monasticism in Peru and adds to the growing literature about early modern convents. It confirms findings about the economic activities of nuns elsewhere in the Catholic world and adds nuances about the convent as a tool for acculturation.”

    “[A] highly readable and significant contribution to colonial Latin American historiography.”

    “[A] thoughtful and well-written study. . . [and] an important contribution to the understanding of Andean and Latin American history.”

    “[C]onsistently proves that, far from being withdrawn from colonial society, nuns were active agents in maintaining social patterns. . . . The reader will like this book, as I did.”

    “[D]escribes in fascinating detail the history of the convents up to their gradual retreat from their central roles.”

    “[I]maginatively conceived and expertly executed. Dr. Burns writes a graceful and lucid prose that enlightens and delights. This is a book for specialists, for general readers curious about its subject matter, and for anyone who loves insightful and engaging works of history.”

    “[I]maginatively researched, logically organized, and intelligently constructed. . . . [T]his is a wonderful study. Colonial Habits makes an elegant and a major contribution to the history of women and gender in colonial and nineteenth-century Spanish America. Its accessibility will make it a natural assignment for undergraduates; its content will make it a standard for experts.”

    “[M]eticulously researched and exquisitely written. Burns is one of the best prose writers working in the field today, and her story unfolds effortlessly and harmoniously. . . . With her excellent book Kathyrn Burns, has thrown the evolution of Peru’s Andean region into new relief, and produced a leading work within this emerging field.”

    “Burns provides an important means of addressing the role of Colonial Cuzco’s convents, in a well-written and engaging narrative that incorporates archival documents from both administrative and religious archives. Vivid accounts of individual lives are well integrated with discussion of how Cuzco’s nuns mediated the sacred/secular divide to advance or simply preserve their corporate interests.”

    “Burns’s fine study reveals the nuns as a critical factor in the subjugation of the Incas, the creation of a creole Peruvian elite, and in the annual provision of finance for the whole regional economy.”

    “Carefully researched [and] well-written, . . . Colonial Habits makes important contributions to the historiography of colonial Spanish America, and deserves a wide readership.”

    “Except as saints and sinners, women have been marginalized in the study of colonial Peru. Kathryn Burns, however, in Colonial Habits, reconstructs the world of Cuzco by placing women at the center. The realignment is original and instructive, and, by focusing on convents, the author chooses virtually the only institution where women exercised real authority and gained some independence. . . . [H]er book is a product of perseverance as well as of scholarship.”

    “In a well-researched and carefully considered study, Kathryn Burns makes a serious case for the important role cloistered nuns played as the center of economic and spiritual life in colonial Cuzco from the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries, a role that remains influential to this day. . . . Colonial Habits is a highly readable work that introduces valuable historical data and provides a fascinating analysis of the economy and spiritual interests in colonial Cuzco.”

    “In this fascinating and well-researched reconstruction of convent life, Burns lays the axe to several widespread assumptions. . . . It is frequently said that to understand colonial religious life one must understand colonial society. But Colonial Habits suggests that the reverse is equally true—to undersand colonial society fully one must enter the inner world of its convents and monasteries.”

    “Kathryn Burns’s book provides original insights into several of the most significant and contested areas of colonial history, particularly those concerning race, religion, family history, and economic development. Scholars of colonial Latin America will find much of interest in this fascinating, multi-faceted book.”

    “Richly textured, this work is well anchored in archival research and fulfills the ambition of its author to create a new historical locus for the institutions as well as for the women who created and managed them.”

    Awards

  • Winner, John Gilmary Shea Award, presented by American Catholic Historical Association

    Winner, 2000 Hagley Prize (Business History Conference and the Hagley Museum & Library)

    Winner, EMW Book Award (presented by Society for the Study of Early Modern Women)

  • Reviews

  • Colonial Habits breaks new ground on the social and economic role of female monasticism in Peru and adds to the growing literature about early modern convents. It confirms findings about the economic activities of nuns elsewhere in the Catholic world and adds nuances about the convent as a tool for acculturation.”

    “[A] highly readable and significant contribution to colonial Latin American historiography.”

    “[A] thoughtful and well-written study. . . [and] an important contribution to the understanding of Andean and Latin American history.”

    “[C]onsistently proves that, far from being withdrawn from colonial society, nuns were active agents in maintaining social patterns. . . . The reader will like this book, as I did.”

    “[D]escribes in fascinating detail the history of the convents up to their gradual retreat from their central roles.”

    “[I]maginatively conceived and expertly executed. Dr. Burns writes a graceful and lucid prose that enlightens and delights. This is a book for specialists, for general readers curious about its subject matter, and for anyone who loves insightful and engaging works of history.”

    “[I]maginatively researched, logically organized, and intelligently constructed. . . . [T]his is a wonderful study. Colonial Habits makes an elegant and a major contribution to the history of women and gender in colonial and nineteenth-century Spanish America. Its accessibility will make it a natural assignment for undergraduates; its content will make it a standard for experts.”

    “[M]eticulously researched and exquisitely written. Burns is one of the best prose writers working in the field today, and her story unfolds effortlessly and harmoniously. . . . With her excellent book Kathyrn Burns, has thrown the evolution of Peru’s Andean region into new relief, and produced a leading work within this emerging field.”

    “Burns provides an important means of addressing the role of Colonial Cuzco’s convents, in a well-written and engaging narrative that incorporates archival documents from both administrative and religious archives. Vivid accounts of individual lives are well integrated with discussion of how Cuzco’s nuns mediated the sacred/secular divide to advance or simply preserve their corporate interests.”

    “Burns’s fine study reveals the nuns as a critical factor in the subjugation of the Incas, the creation of a creole Peruvian elite, and in the annual provision of finance for the whole regional economy.”

    “Carefully researched [and] well-written, . . . Colonial Habits makes important contributions to the historiography of colonial Spanish America, and deserves a wide readership.”

    “Except as saints and sinners, women have been marginalized in the study of colonial Peru. Kathryn Burns, however, in Colonial Habits, reconstructs the world of Cuzco by placing women at the center. The realignment is original and instructive, and, by focusing on convents, the author chooses virtually the only institution where women exercised real authority and gained some independence. . . . [H]er book is a product of perseverance as well as of scholarship.”

    “In a well-researched and carefully considered study, Kathryn Burns makes a serious case for the important role cloistered nuns played as the center of economic and spiritual life in colonial Cuzco from the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries, a role that remains influential to this day. . . . Colonial Habits is a highly readable work that introduces valuable historical data and provides a fascinating analysis of the economy and spiritual interests in colonial Cuzco.”

    “In this fascinating and well-researched reconstruction of convent life, Burns lays the axe to several widespread assumptions. . . . It is frequently said that to understand colonial religious life one must understand colonial society. But Colonial Habits suggests that the reverse is equally true—to undersand colonial society fully one must enter the inner world of its convents and monasteries.”

    “Kathryn Burns’s book provides original insights into several of the most significant and contested areas of colonial history, particularly those concerning race, religion, family history, and economic development. Scholars of colonial Latin America will find much of interest in this fascinating, multi-faceted book.”

    “Richly textured, this work is well anchored in archival research and fulfills the ambition of its author to create a new historical locus for the institutions as well as for the women who created and managed them.”

  • “It is fascinating to revisit the history of Cuzco through the gates of the convent. Burns’ clear, succinct prose, her gift for narrative, her eye for detail, and her engagement of larger issues of power, gender, and race make this an attractive book for a wide variety of readers.”—Brooke Larson, SUNY Stony Brook — N/A

    Burns’s important and highly readable work takes a fresh look at the key economic, social, and cultural relationships that created and sustained a densely woven urban-centered colonial society in the Andes. Among its new findings: at the heart of the economy of colonial Cuzco, a credit institution run by women favored the conquered indigenous elite with long-term finance at concessionary interest rates.”—John Coatsworth, Harvard University — N/A

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  • Description

    In Colonial Habits Kathryn Burns transforms our view of nuns as marginal recluses, making them central actors on the colonial stage. Beginning with the 1558 founding of South America’s first convent, Burns shows that nuns in Cuzco played a vital part in subjugating Incas, creating a creole elite, and reproducing an Andean colonial order in which economic and spiritual interests were inextricably fused.
    Based on unprecedented archival research, Colonial Habits demonstrates how nuns became leading guarantors of their city’s social order by making loans, managing property, containing “unruly” women, and raising girls. Coining the phrase “spiritual economy” to analyze the intricate investments and relationships that enabled Cuzco’s convents and their backers to thrive, Burns explains how, by the late 1700s, this economy had faltered badly, making convents an emblem of decay and a focal point for intense criticism of a failing colonial regime. By the nineteenth century, the nuns had retreated from their previous roles, marginalized in the construction of a new republican order.
    Providing insight that can be extended well outside the Andes to the relationships articulated by convents across much of Europe, the Americas, and beyond, Colonial Habits will engage those interested in early modern economics, Latin American studies, women in religion, and the history of gender, class, and race.

    About The Author(s)

    Kathryn Burns is Associate Professor of History at the University of North Carolina,Chapel Hill.

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