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P R E F A C E A N D A C K N O W L E D G M E N T S In 1517 a conquest expedition left the island of Cuba on its way to Yucatán, a peninsula southwest of Cuba and southeast of what was to become central Mexico. This group failed in its attempt at conquest, but not before one of its members, Bernal Díaz del Castillo, was able to make a series of observations. Díaz, writing his recollections decades later, remembered the people of Yucat án primarily as a deceitful and hostile group who used priests to engage in threats and even to kill people. Yucatecan people, according to Díaz, celebrated sodomy, practiced human sacrifice, and enslaved men, women, and children.1 After several brief expeditions around the coast of the peninsula, the Spanish went on to conquer central Mexico before they returned, and in the 1540s they finally conquered much of Yucatán.2 Yucatán of the early sixteenth century was populated by a group of the descendants of the people responsible for the religious/urban centers and pyramids most often associated with the Maya. Most of these centers emanated from the Classic period (a.d. 250–900), although several of the Yucatecan sites (Chichén Itzá and Mayapán, for example) were used primarily during Postclassic times. The Maya, however, by the time of the Spanish conquest, had abandoned the major sites and had settled into independent farming communities . Still, they maintained a society with significant social stratification.3 This Maya society was divided based on class, ethnicity, and lineage, a fact that did not escape its would-be conquerors. Given Díaz’s moral objections to certain aspects of Maya culture, one might think that the Spaniards would have placed great emphasis on chang- ing these elements. Yet this was not entirely the case, and a complete spiritual and cultural conquest never took place.4 Instead, the Maya ethical system in place at the time of the conquest changed dramatically, but in a manner that Díaz and his fellow Spaniards could not have predicted. The Maya ethical system changed into a hybridized form, one in which the two systems (Maya and Spanish) mixed to create something which did not replicate either of the prior two. The new hybridized ethical system was based on broader cultural changes: the ways in which Maya people made sense of their world were colonized and forever altered. This book analyzes the hybridization of one complex element of this culture : sexual desire. For the Maya sexual desire was placed in a cultural framework centered around ritual. The rituals as a whole promoted warfare and sacrifice to maintain the gods. For the Spanish sexual desire was placed in a cultural framework related to sin. The hybridization of these two frameworks did not allow sex to be connected to sacrifice; nor did it subsume sex under the rubric of sin. Instead, for the colonial Maya, sex became connected with a cultural system related to the shedding of blood, the maintenance of lineage, and the connection with supernatural forces. While this system certainly related closely to concepts of sacrifice and sin, the very definitions of these elements were changed by the centuries of colonization and hybridization. This book is the first manuscript that I know of to use Maya-language documents in order to study sexual desire. The discussion is framed around a series of texts, mainly written by seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Maya nobles, which were intended to show the history, religion, and philosophy of the Maya communities in Yucatán. In every case I find that the texts discuss, both directly and metaphorically, the genders, bodies, and sexual desires of the Maya peoples, often distinguishing the thoughts and actions of the people inside the local community from those of all others. Preconquest Maya ideas were used by individuals, lineage groups, and communities to gain various advantages over others. The same took place during the colonial era, although the context changed. The arguments were sexualized debates about political, social, cultural, and economic issues. I argue that by the late colonial period Maya sexual ideas, fantasies, and fears had changed dramatically. The alterations which took place were the results of a colonialism dominated by the force of hybridity (the development of something, in this case a culture, from the mixing of two other things where the...


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