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Sins Against Nature: Sex and Archives in Colonial New Spain

The CEU Campus
Thursday, June 15, 2017, 5:00 pm

This talk analyzes some of the archival implications of the "sins against nature" of sodomy, bestiality, and masturbation in colonial New Spain, between the years of 1530 and 1821. I pay attention to the ways that "unnatural" bodies, acts, and desires come to be documented in the first place, and how they eventually come to be archived. Focusing on three outstanding cases, I look at how the colonial archive itself simultaneously (and paradoxically) makes visible and obscures desires that colonial authorities and the Holy Office of the Mexican Inquisition deemed to be "against nature."


Zeb Tortorici received his Ph.D. in History and is assistant professor of Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Literatures at New York University. He recently co-edited Sexuality and the Unnatural in Colonial Latin America (University of California Press, 2016) and two special issues of Radical History Review on the topic of "Queering Archives."