Join us for a lecture with Jessica Delgado. Delgado is an Assistant Professor of Religion at Princeton University since 2012. She earned her Ph.D. in Latin American History at the University of California at Berkeley and was Stewart Fellow in Religion at Princeton University from 2009-2012.
The Beata of the Black Habit: Race, Sexuality, and Religious Authority in Late Colonial Mexico
María Anastasia Gonzales was a mystic; out of step with the elite religiosity of late eighteenth-century Bourbon reformers, but highly respected in her local community as a beata –a laywoman who lived under vows of celibacy and piety. When the Inquisition compelled her to testify against her former confessor for sexual misconduct, the content of her testimony—and the fact that she experienced ecstatic visions in the middle of it—drew the ire of local clergy and Inquisitors alike. Over the course of a thirteen-year investigation, trial, and post-humus inquisitorial debate, Gonzales got caught in the cross fire between religious authorities and became the focus of elite imperial anxieties. All the while, she insisted on the validity of her own religious experiences in the face of Inquisitors’ gendered and racialized depictions of her as arrogant, ignorant, or mentally deficient. This talk examines the extraordinary furor caused by one woman’s way of making sense of her confessor’s sexual exploitation to explore changes in religious culture, colonial power, and racialized ideologies of gender in late eighteenth-century Mexico.