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Disobedience, Slander, Seduction, and Assault

Women and Men in Cajamarca, Peru, 1862-1900

By Tanja Christiansen

Publication Year: 2004

Though the law and courts of nineteenth-century Peru were institutions created by and for the ruling elite, women of all classes used the system to negotiate the complexities of property rights, childrearing, and marriage, and often to defend their very definitions of honor. Drawing on the trial transcripts of Cajamarca, a northern Peruvian province, from more than a century ago, this book shares eye-opening details about life among this community, in which reputation could determine a woman’s chances of survival. Exploring the processes of courtship, seduction, and familial duties revealed in these court records, historian Tanja Christiansen has unearthed a compelling panorama that includes marital strife, slander, disobedience, street brawls, and spousal abuse alongside documents that give evidence of affection and devotion. Her research also yields much new information about the protocols for conflict and cooperation among nineteenth-century Peruvian women from all social strata, and the prevalence of informal unions in an economy driven in large part by migratory male labor. Reviving a little-known aspect of Latin American history, Christiansen’s book simultaneously brings to light an important microcosm of women’s history during the nineteenth century.

Published by: University of Texas Press


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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xii

This book is based on my PhD dissertation and would not have come about without the support of a number of individuals. My supervisor, Alan Knight, offered encouragement throughout, and his flexibility in adapting himself to my circumstances was crucial. My examiners, Malcolm Deas and Lewis Taylor, offered insightful comments on the dissertation, and I would like to ...

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pp. xiii-xix

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Chapter 1. Introduction: Presenting the Case

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pp. 1-20

This book considers how lower-class Peruvians reconciled everyday behavior with the strict norms established by church, state, and the public at large. While the state and church in late-nineteenth-century Peru established premarital virginity, patriarchal sovereignty, and the indissolubility of marriage as absolute norms, most Peruvians were unable to follow such rules. Pub- ...

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Chapter 2. Cajamarcan Society under the Magnifying Glass: Regional Society, Economy, and Politics in the Nineteenth Century

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pp. 21-39

The department of Cajamarca comprises the provinces of Cajamarca, Celend

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Chapter 3. Legislating Gender: The Law, Official Gender Norms, and Notions of Honor

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pp. 40-55

Elite gender norms permeated Peruvian society, influencing all classes in a variety of ways, but most concretely via legislation. The legal framework, revised several times in the course of the nineteenth century, codified elite views on gender and offers us a window to elite perceptions of gender. The role and importance of the institution of matrimony, the position of ...

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Chapter 4. Survival Strategies: Negotiating Matrimony

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pp. 56-90

This chapter analyzes marital relations and how popular and official views of consensual unions and formal marriage differed and were negotiated in practice. One of my recurring concerns is how socially differentiated marriage practices shaped women’s and men’s lives in practical terms. While state and church doctrine defined marriage as the only appropriate frame- ...

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Chapter 5. Injurias Verbales y Calumnias: Slander

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pp. 91-114

A growing literature regarding honor documents its importance in colonial Latin America and during the nineteenth century, as well as some of the changes the definition of honor underwent in this period. Honor was described as all or nothing by contemporaries, a matter as clear-cut and dramatic as life and death. But paradoxically, it was both negotiable and elastic ....

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Chapter 6. Rapto, Seducci

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pp. 115-139

This chapter addresses questions of sexuality and how women and men of the lower orders reconciled their actions with their concern for reputation and honor. To this end I analyze trial transcripts catalogued under the labels of ‘‘rapto,’’ ‘‘seducción,’’ ‘‘violación,’’ and ‘‘estupro’’—abduction, seduction, Legally, the terms overlapped and partially contradicted one another;1...

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Chapter 7. Conflict and Cooperation among Women

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pp. 140-170

This chapter begins with the story of Remigia Bermúdes and her former employer, Isabel Basauri, who came to blows in 1862. The incident shed slight on this chapter’s theme—conflict and solidarity among women—and highlights the issue of illegitimacy, the plight of single mothers, the complexity of patron-client relations, and the prevalence of violence in Cajamar- ...

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Chapter 8. Conclusion

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pp. 171-188

The trial transcripts I used as sources for this study contain a wealth of stories and record moments of both high tension and everyday banality. They offer insights into how gender worked in provincial towns and hamlets in northern Peru in the nineteenth century. Honor mattered to both the poor and the rich. People lived according to multiple, overlapping, and, ...

Appendix A. Marital and Literacy Data from Criminal Trials, 1862–1900

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pp. 189-190

Appendix B. Data from the National Census Conducted in 1876

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pp. 191-202

Appendix C. Cited Trials

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pp. 203-212


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pp. 213-248


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pp. 249-258


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pp. 259-261

E-ISBN-13: 9780292797413
E-ISBN-10: 0292797419
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292702882
Print-ISBN-10: 0292702884

Page Count: 283
Illustrations: 8 figures, 20 tables
Publication Year: 2004

OCLC Number: 60611916
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Disobedience, Slander, Seduction, and Assault

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Sexual ethics -- Peru -- Cajamarca (Dept.) -- History -- 19th century.
  • Social control -- Peru -- Cajamarca (Dept.) -- History -- 19th century.
  • Honor -- Peru -- Cajamarca (Dept.) -- History -- 19th century.
  • Women -- Peru -- Cajamarca (Dept.) -- Social conditions -- 19th century.
  • Sex role -- Peru -- Cajamarca (Dept.) -- History -- 19th century.
  • Man-woman relationships -- Peru -- Cajamarca (Dept.) -- History -- 19th century.
  • Working class -- Sexual behavior -- Peru -- Cajamarca (Dept.) -- History -- 19th century.
  • Cajamarca (Peru : Dept.) -- Moral conditions -- History -- 19th century.
  • Women -- Sexual behavior -- Peru -- Cajamarca (Dept.) -- History -- 19th century.
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