A propos of the statute of purity of blood in the Society of Jesus (1593)
Alexandre Coello de la Rosa
(Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)
Paper short abstract:
This paper explores the construction of social categories, such as “mestizo” and “criollo”, as interpreted from Society of Jesus’ viewpoint in colonial Peru. These ambivalent terms had nothing to do with “race”, but rather with genealogical arguments related to purity of blood and lineage as regards to unequal marriages.
Paper long abstract:
The objective of this paper consists of exploring the construction of social categories, such as "mestizo" and "criollo", as interpreted from Society of Jesus' viewpoint in colonial Peru (16th and 17th centuries. As I will show, this ambivalent term had nothing to do with "race", but rather with matters related to purity of blood, lineage and the quality of people as regards to unequal marriages. To understand the Society of Jesus' official position with respect to these concerns, I want to revise the Statutes of Purity of Blood, issued in the V General Congregation of Rome (1593), to critically analyze the political and historical conditions that blocked the "impure and illegitimate Jesuits" from entering the Ignatius Order. Generally speaking, in the mid-seventeenth century, the Society welcomed "criollos" to become capable and loyal Jesuits, while "mestizos" were definitely refused. Sexual limits turned into moral limits. The alleged "imperfections" - physical and intellectual ones, such as barbarous and evil customs - of Indians and "mestizos" did not affect "criollos" any more, because they related from now on to the dominant groups of power. Thus, by linking to the Spaniards, "criollos" gained access to ecclesiastical and administrative posts, while "mestizos" did not. To conclude, this paper will demonstrate that the Jesuit policy regarding "mestizos" and "criollos" did not blur these social categories. Rather the contrary, it helped to reinforce them, presupposing the existence of a "criollo" identity that will be claimed in the years to come.
Migrations: of borders, crossings and ambivalent identities