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PLAGUES, PRIESTS, AND DEMONS
Drawing from anthropology, religious studies, history, and literary theory, Plagues, Priests, and Demons explores significant parallels in the rise of Christianity in the late Roman Empire and colonial Mexico. Evidence shows that new forms of infectious disease devastated the late Roman Empire and Indian America, respectively, contributing to pagan and Indian interest in Christianity. Christian clerics and monks in early medieval Europe, and later Jesuit missionaries in colonial Mexico, introduced new beliefs and practices as well as accommodated indigenous religions, especially through the cult of the saints. The book is simultaneously a comparative study of early Christian and later Spanish missionary texts. Similarities in the two literatures are attributed to similar cultural-historical forces that governed the "rise of Christianity" in Europe and the Americas.
Daniel T. Reff is an associate professor in the Department of Comparative Studies at Ohio State University. He is an anthropologist and enth-nohistorian who has done research in northern Mexico, the American Southwest, Spain, and Portugal. He is the author of numerous articles on colonial Mexico in journals such as American Anthropologist, American Antiquity, and Ethnohistory. He is the author of Disease, Depopulation, and Culture Change in Northwestern New Spain, 1518-1764 (1991), and editor and co-translator (with Maureen Ahern and Richard Danford) of the first critical, English-language edition of Andres Perez de Ribas's History of the Triumphs of Our Holy Faith Amongst the Most Barbarous and Fierce Peoples of the New World (1999 [1645 ]). He has been a resident scholar at the School of American Research and is the recipient of major research grants as well as a University Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
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