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Women of the Iberian Atlantic

Sarah E.Owens, Jane E.Mangan

Publication Year: 2012

The ten essays in this interdisciplinary collection explore the lives, places, and stories of women in the Iberian Atlantic between 1500 and 1800. Distinguished contributors such as Ida Altman, Matt D. Childs, and Allyson M. Poska utilize the complexities of gender to understand issues of race, class, family, health, and religious practices in the Atlantic basin. Unlike previous scholarship, which has focused primarily on upper-class and noble women, this book examines the lives of those on the periphery, including free and enslaved Africans, colonized indigenous mothers, and poor Spanish women. Chapters range broadly across time periods and regions of the Atlantic world. The authors explore the lives of Caribbean women in the earliest era of Spanish colonization and gender norms in Spain and its far-flung colonies. They extend the boundaries of the traditional Atlantic by analyzing healing knowledge of indigenous women in Portuguese Goa and kinship bonds among women in Spanish East Texas. Together, these innovative essays rechart the Iberian Atlantic while revealing the widespread impact of women’s activities on the emergence of the Iberian Atlantic world.

Published by: Louisiana State University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

This volume would not exist without the support of the College of Charleston and the Carolina Lowcountry Atlantic World Program, who sponsored the initial conference, “Women in the Ibero-American Atlantic (1500–1800),” in February of 2010. Indeed, it was the intellectual spark from that conference that...

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Introduction: Women of the Iberian Atlantic: Gendered Dimensions of Empire

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pp. 1-17

To read Women of the Iberian Atlantic is to watch a picture emerge, a collage of women participating in the creation of the Iberian Atlantic. The ten essays in this volume resist stereotypes of early modern women as one-dimensional, subservient, or secondary to their male counterparts, revealing the complex interplay...

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1 Navigating the Atlantic Divide: Women, Education, and Literacy in Iberia and the Americas

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pp. 18-36

The study of Iberia and the Americas traditionally has occurred in two parallel worlds, and the study of women in those spaces is no exception.1 Iberianists and Latin Americanists have made significant advances in understanding women’s economic, cultural, and political engagement in early modern Iberia and...

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2 An Ocean Apart: Reframing Gender in the Spanish Empire

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pp. 37-56

During the early modern period, the evolution of the Atlantic Ocean from the perceived end of the known world to the opening to a new global empire transformed the lives of women. Thousands of peninsular women felt the Atlantic’s presence as their husbands migrated, never to return; indigenous women experienced...

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3 Spanish Women in the Caribbean, 1493–1540

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pp. 57-81

The timing, nature, and geography of contacts among the representatives of distinctive peoples and places are fundamental to the study of the late medieval and early modern Atlantic world (or worlds). The appropriation and settlement of island groups (the Canaries, Azores, Madeiras, and Cabo Verde Islands) lying well...

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4 Indigenous Women as Mothers in Conquest-Era Peru

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pp. 82-100

The lives of indigenous women in the Andes changed immeasurably when Spanish conquistadores stirred a battle that would cripple the Inca empire and enmesh Andean systems of rule with Spanish ones. The indigenous Leonor, a native of Cuzco, lived in Peru during this hectic time that saw the gradual emergence...

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5 Women and Kinship in Spanish East Texas at the End of the Eighteenth Century

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pp. 101-127

In 1801 the Spanish governor of Texas interrogated Nacogdoches citizen Gertrudis de los Santos and her husband, Antonio Leal, about Santos’s mala amistad (illicit affair). Under questioning, Santos admitted to being a mujer fragile (fragile woman) because she had slept with her husband’s business partner. Next, the governor...

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6 Cloistered Women in Health Care: The Convent of Jesús María, Mexico City

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pp. 128-147

Recent studies have shed much light on cloistered convents and their relationship with the outside world.1 Even though at first glance one might assume that cloistered nuns, having taken their solemn vows of poverty, shut the gate to the outside world for good, this simply was not the case. Not only did nuns maintain...

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7 The Role and Practices of the Female Folk Healer in the Early Modern Portuguese Atlantic World

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pp. 148-173

As in many early modern societies, specialized women healers in the Lusophone Atlantic world often provided the first—and usually the only— source of health care for their own families and people in their immediate vicinity. In rural agrarian peasant communities (be they in continental Portugal or the diverse transatlantic colonial hinterlands), where trained conventional physicians...

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8 The Botany of Colonial Medicine: Gender, Authority, and Natural History in the Empires of Spain and Portugal

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pp. 174-195

At the end of the sixteenth century, and nearing the end of his life, the Portuguese physician Cristovão da Costa composed a long and reflective essay, “In Appreciation of Women.” He drew up a list of what he considered to be the most desirable qualities a woman could possess, chose five—chastity, honesty, resolve...

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9 Mother Nganga: Women Experts in the Bantu-Atlantic Spiritual Cultures of the Iberian Atlantic World

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pp. 196-229

The great madre nganga known as Manga Saya lived in nineteenth-century Cuba during the days of slavery. She offered miraculous cures with her knowledge of plants and her cultivation of spiritual power. Even after her death, Manga Saya remained the empowering force for the ritual objects maintained...

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10 Gendering the African Diaspora in the Iberian Atlantic: Religious Brotherhoods and the Cabildos de Nación

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pp. 230-262

In 1803 the captain general of Cuba (equivalent to an English governor), the Marques de Someruelos, received several petitions to intercede in a disputed election. After local judicial officials in Havana investigated the complaints, several women called on the captain general to take on the case himself. The disputed...


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pp. 263-266


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pp. 267-278

E-ISBN-13: 9780807147733
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807147726

Page Count: 288
Publication Year: 2012