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Decolonizing the Sodomite

Queer Tropes of Sexuality in Colonial Andean Culture

By Michael J. Horswell

Publication Year: 2005

Early Andean historiography reveals a subaltern history of indigenous gender and sexuality that saw masculinity and femininity not as essential absolutes. Third-gender ritualists, Ipas, mediated between the masculine and feminine spheres of culture in important ceremonies and were recorded in fragments of myths and transcribed oral accounts. Ritual performance by cross-dressed men symbolically created a third space of mediation that invoked the mythic androgyne of the pre-Hispanic Andes. The missionaries and civil authorities colonizing the Andes deemed these performances transgressive and sodomitical. In this book, Michael J. Horswell examines alternative gender and sexuality in the colonial Andean world, and uses the concept of the third gender to reconsider some fundamental paradigms of Andean culture. By deconstructing what literary tropes of sexuality reveal about Andean pre-Hispanic and colonial indigenous culture, he provides an alternative history and interpretation of the much-maligned aboriginal subjects the Spanish often referred to as “sodomites.” Horswell traces the origin of the dominant tropes of masculinist sexuality from canonical medieval texts to early modern Spanish secular and moralist literature produced in the context of material persecution of effeminates and sodomites in Spain. These values traveled to the Andes and were used as powerful rhetorical weapons in the struggle to justify the conquest of the Incas.

Published by: University of Texas Press


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Title Page, Copyright Page

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p. vii


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pp. ix-xi

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pp. 1-28

"The chieftains and settlers [ from Carabaya] bring a chuqui chinchay, an animal painted in all the colors. They say that it was the apo [deity] of the jaguars, under whose protection were..."

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pp. 29-67

"In this chapter I trace the performance of gender and sexuality in the Iberian Peninsula from medieval to early-modern times by reading primary texts from different genres and different historical..."

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pp. 68-113

"Queer tropes of sexuality appear in the pages of Conquest narratives from the first expeditions to the Americas. The sodomitical tropes recorded in this colonial discourse are more than mere ‘'medieval artifacts,’' as I understand Mark Jordan’s use of the term in his theological..."

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pp. 114-166

"One of the more enigmatic pre-Columbian sculptured vessels recovered from the Andean region is a Moche guaco of a seated figure whose braided hair and headdress signal that she is a woman.1 A closer look reveals, however, that the molded figure is apparently a..."

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pp. 167-229

"Andean notions of the feminine and the androgyne, ritually represented by third-gender subjects and analyzed and characterized in Chapters 2 and 3, experienced a transformation in the waning years of the sixteenth century. Rather than being erased by the more stringent civil..."

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pp. 230-258

"In this chapter I consider yet another historian writing from the chaupi between two cultures, the Inca Garcilaso de la Vega.1 I am interested in exploriung the 'darker side' of his..."

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pp. 259-265

"‘I am sure that in the cantina, after you and I leave, all sorts of queer things go on,’’ Lituma said. ‘'Don’t you think?’ ‘'It grosses me out so much that I hate going there,'’ replied his deputy. ‘'But you could die of sorrow closed up in the..."


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pp. 267-299


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pp. 301-321


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pp. 323-331

E-ISBN-13: 9780292796249
E-ISBN-10: 0292796242
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292709690
Print-ISBN-10: 0292709692

Page Count: 345
Illustrations: 9 line drawings, 1 halftone
Publication Year: 2005

OCLC Number: 70054745
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Decolonizing the Sodomite

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Andes Region -- Foreign relations -- Spain.
  • Male homosexuality -- Andes Region -- History.
  • Male homosexuality -- Spain -- History.
  • Sex customs -- Andes Region -- History.
  • Sex customs -- Spain -- History.
  • Indians of South America -- Sexual behavior -- Andes Region.
  • Indians of South America -- Colonization -- Andes Region.
  • Incas -- Sexual behavior.
  • Indian gays -- Andes Region -- History.
  • Indian gays -- Sexual behavior -- Andes Region.
  • Spain -- Colonies -- America.
  • Spain -- Foreign relations -- Andes Region.
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