• Sins against Nature: Sex and Archives in Colonial New Spain

    Pages: 344
    Illustrations: 21 illustrations
    Sales/Territorial Rights: World
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  • A Note on Translation  ix
    Acknowledgments  xi
    Introduction. Archiving the Unnatural  1
    1. Viscerality in the Archives: Consuming Desires  25
    2. Impulses of the Archive: Misinscription and Voyeurism  46
    3. Archiving the Signs of Sodomy: Bodies and Gestures  84
    4. To Deaden the Memory: Bestiality and Animal Erasure  124
    5. Archives of Negligence: Solicitation in the Confessional  161
    6. Desiring the Divine: Pollution and Pleasure  197
    Conclusion. Accessing Absence, Surveying Seduction  233
    Appendix  255
    List of Archives  261
    Notes  263
    Bibliography  297
    Index  309
  • Winner of the 2018 John Boswell Prize, presented by the Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender History (American Historical Association)


  • Winner of the 2018 John Boswell Prize, presented by the Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender History (American Historical Association)

  • Sins against Nature offers a strikingly original contribution to the understanding of histories of sexuality in colonial New Spain. Zeb Tortorici's supple readings of records of sodomy, bestiality, and masturbation reveal radically divergent orientations to knowledge, affect, and reason at the very heart of the colonial archive. This is a work of compelling historical scholarship—interdisciplinary, imaginative, meticulous, and critically self-reflexive.” — Anjali Arondekar, author of, For the Record: On Sexuality and the Colonial Archive in India

    “Based on an astonishing amount of research that scholars will mine for decades (one wonders if Zeb Tortorici has gone to every single archive and library in all of Mexico), Sins against Nature is a rigorously argued work that takes the field to the next theoretical and methodological level.” — Pete Sigal, author of, The Flower and the Scorpion: Sexuality and Ritual in Early Nahua Culture

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  • Description

    In Sins against Nature Zeb Tortorici explores the prosecution of sex acts in colonial New Spain (present-day Mexico, Guatemala, the US Southwest, and the Philippines) to examine the multiple ways bodies and desires come to be textually recorded and archived. Drawing on the records from over three hundred criminal and Inquisition cases between 1530 and 1821, Tortorici shows how the secular and ecclesiastical courts deployed the term contra natura—against nature—to try those accused of sodomy, bestiality, masturbation, erotic religious visions, priestly solicitation of sex during confession, and other forms of "unnatural" sex. Archival traces of the visceral reactions of witnesses, the accused, colonial authorities, notaries, translators, and others in these records demonstrate the primacy of affect and its importance to the Spanish documentation and regulation of these sins against nature. In foregrounding the logic that dictated which crimes were recorded and how they are mediated through the colonial archive, Tortorici recasts Iberian Atlantic history through the prism of the unnatural while showing how archives destabilize the bodies, desires, and social categories on which the history of sexuality is based.

    About The Author(s)

    Zeb Tortorici is Associate Professor of Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Literatures at New York University, coeditor of Centering Animals in Latin American History, also published by Duke University Press, and editor of Sexuality and the Unnatural in Colonial Latin America.
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