28 John F. Bannon, S.J., TheMissionFrontierin Sonora, 1620-1687 (New York: United States Catholic Historical Society, 1955); Peter Masten Dunne, S.J., Pioneer Black Robes on the West Coast (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1940); Pioneer Jesuits in Northern Mexico (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1944); Robert Ricard, The Spiritual Conquest of Mexico (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1966 ). Note that, whereas Ricard gave voice to this great man theme (e.g., pp. 142-152, 194, 212, 267), he had many critics in 1932 because he did not go far enough casting the Mendicants as great civilizers (see p. 305).
29 David L. Kozak and David I. Lopez, Devil Sickness and Devil Songs, Tohono O'odham Poetics (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1999), 96. See also Ramon A. Gutierrez, When Jesus Came, the Corn Mothers Went Away: Marriage, Sexuality, and Power inNewMexico, 1500-1846 (Stanford University Press, 1991). It is significant that Gutierrez's book was widely acclaimed, albeit not by his Pueblo subjects. Far less attention has been paid to analyses of the mission frontier that do not vilify the Franciscans and Jesuits. See, for instance, John Kessell, Spain in the Southwest (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2002); Susan Deeds, "Rural Work in Nueva Vizcaya: Forms of Labor Coercion on the Periphery." Hispanic American Historical Review 69 (1989): 425-449, "Double Jeopardy: Indian Women in Jesuit Missions of Nueva Vizcaya." In Indian Women of Early Mexico, eds. S. Schroeder, S. Wood, and R. Haskett, pp. 255-272 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997); Charlotte M. Gradie, The Tepehuan Revolt of 1616 (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2000); Robert H. Jackson and Edwardo Castillo, Indians, Franciscans, and Spanish Colonization (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1995); Cynthia Radding, Wandering Peoples, Colonialism, Ethnic Spaces, and Ecological Frontiers in Northwestern Mexico, 1700-1850 (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1997); Thomas E. Sheridan, Empire of Sand (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1999).
The recent emphasis on viewing the early Church in Europe and Mexico as repressive institutions is part of a more tectonic upheaval regarding how we conceive of history and the historical record. Poststructural theorists have problematized the idea that texts mirror reality.30 Scholars previously viewed sacred biography and history, be it Jesuit or early Christian, as windows on the past or as pious fictions, which convey symbolically (i.e., through miracles) theological "truths." Poststructuralist theorists have highlighted how all texts are constitutive of reality and invariably are caught up in the exercise of power, relying on the illusion of "the transcendental signified" to create and maintain subjects for exploitation.31
We are indebted to poststructuralist theorists for highlighting the complex ways in which texts reference and occlude various realities, and how our own interpretations entail yet another remaking of the past in the image of the present. The realization that historical narratives infrequently mirror reality directly is critical to imagining plausible alternatives to those inscribed by early Christian and later, Spanish missionary-authors. However, extreme poststructural interpretations can result in the Nihilist presupposition that the relationship between a text and the reality it purports to describe is so problematic that questions of pre-textual reality are not worth pursuing.32 It is not uncommon to find scholars of Spanish colonial literature and historiography ignoring or
30 Roland Barthes, S/Z, trans. R. Miller (New York: Hill and Wang, 1977 ); Jacque Derrida, On Grammatology, trans. G. Spivak (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins Press, 1976 ); Michel Foucault, The Archaeology of Knowledge, trans. A. Sheridan (New York: Vintage Books, 1969), The Order of Things, trans. A. Sheridan (New York: Vintage Books, 1970 ). Poststructuralism and related intellectual challenges to the "Enlightenment project" owe their own origins in part to freedom movements of the post-i960s that ended colonial rule in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Part of the success of these movements entailed challenging and discrediting celebratory colonial histories. Patricia Seed, "More Colonial and Postcolonial Discourse." Latin American Research Review 28 (1993): 146-152.
31 Jacque Derrida, Writing and Difference, trans. A. Bass (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1978 ), 278-293.
32 See Gesa Mackenthun, Metaphors of Dispossession (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997), 16-18; Daniel T Reff, "Text and Context: Cures, Miracles, and Fear in the Relación of Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca." Journal of the Southwest: 38 (1996): 115-138.
even dismissing matters of truth and verification.33 Frustrated by the inability to adequately know and thus speak for "the subaltern," some scholars of Latin America have made the difficulty of representing the subaltern the focus of study.34 Similarly, prominent medievalists have implied or stated that it is "fruitless" trying to determine the real basis of miracle stories,35 which are so characteristic of early Christian literature. Medievalists increasingly have focused on miracle stories as evidence of literary traditions or vehicles of social identity.36
Perhaps the most poignant example of this slighting of pretextual reality is an otherwise fascinating book by Judith Perkins, entitled The Suffering Self.37 The central argument advanced by Perkins is that the extensive discourse on pain and suffering that characterized late antiquity in Mediterranean Europe was a social construction deployed by the Church and consumed by the masses: "Christianity was only able to create itself as an institution because cultural 'talking,' its own and others, had prepared a subject ready for its call - a subject that apprehended itself as a sufferer."38
One would never know from Perkins's book that there was any "real" suffering during late antiquity. The Antonine Plague, which lasted from 165 to 180 c.e, killed 10 million people, or 8 percent, of the population of the Roman Empire. As discussed in Chapter 2, the Antonine Plague was the first of a series of disease episodes that destroyed millions of
33 Zamora has suggested what appears to be a more accommodating view: "one can read to understand the past or to understand how stories about the past are told." However, this view ignores the fact that understanding "how stories about the past are told" presupposes inferences about "the past." Margarita Zamora, Reading Columbus (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993), 3.
34 For instance, John Beverley, Subalternity and Representation (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1999).
35 Richard Fletcher, The Barbarian Conversion, From Paganism to Christianity (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997), 45.
36 Joan M. Petersen, The Dialogues of Gregory the Great in their late antique cultural background (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, 1984), xxi; Raymond Van Dam, Saints and Their Miracles in Late Antique Gaul (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1993), 84.
37 Judith Perkins, The Suffering Self: Pain and Narrative Representation in the Early Christian Era (London: Routledge, 1995).
lives and had numerous unpleasant multipliers for the survivors, many of whose lives were made worse by invading armies, famine, still-born infants, anxiety, and so on. The notion of "the Dark Ages" is not entirely bankrupt. There was very real, perhaps unprecedented suffering underlying the discourse of pain and suffering that was embraced by Christians of all classes beginning in late antiquity. Often overlooked is that, alongside this discourse was another equally extensive and elaborate discourse on charity - a discourse that encouraged Christians to attend to the needs of fellow human beings.39 Importantly, early Christians not only "talked" a lot about charity but made it central to their lives as lived (it wasn't that they simply imagined themselves as charitable).
The realization that reality infrequently is directly accessible through literature should not keep us from acknowledging that real things happen to real people.40 No scholar of late antiquity has emphasized the power of ideas more than Peter Brown, yet Brown cautioned historians not to lose sight of the desperate choices that real men and women were forced to make in late antiquity.41
Acknowledging this desperation and its connection to epidemic disease does not preclude clerics of the post-Constantine Church having benefitted materially from a discourse of pain and suffering, nor does it negate many clerics having engaged a repressive discourse on sexuality. These are important "stories" but so, too, is the story of millions of pagans and Indians for whom Christianity - a Christianity that they helped define - provided a means of getting on with what were very difficult lives. Along these lines, "great men" like Augustine and Cassian, the "father" of Western monasticism, may have drawn up the blueprint for Christianity, but Christianity has never been a religion whose form and
39 Neglect of this agency can be traced in part to the influential, early work of Foucault, which ignored human agency and emphasized how religion victimized populations. Ivan Strenski, "Religion, Power, and Final Foucault," Journal of the American Academy of Religion (1998), 345 -367.
40 Rolena Adorno, "Reconsidering Colonial Discourse For Sixteenth-And Seventeenth-Century Spanish America." Latin American Research Review 28 (1993): 135-145, 139; F. Jameson, The Political Unconscious: Narrative as a Socially Symbolic Act (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1981); Sherry B. Ortner, "Resistance and the Problem of Ethnographic Refusal." Comparative Studies In Society and History 37(1995): 173-193, 188-191.
41 The Body and Society, xviii.
content has been dictated solely from the top down. Actually, the "the top" always has been more like a plateau, because of jurisdictional wrangling, parochial jealousy, incompetence, and resistance from within the ranks of the privileged elite.42 It also is the case that during late antiquity and the early Middle Ages ordinary people exercised a powerful voice through the cult of the saints, the election of bishops, and the simple decision to ignore some and not other aspects of Church teachings.43 Similarly, in colonial Latin America, "the Church" was very much a contested institution, one that native peoples negotiated with as well as resisted creatively. Indians and mestizos did not simply acquiesce to the vision and demands of Mendicant and Jesuit missionaries. In thousands of small communities and urban barrios Christianity was reimagined, not simply accepted by Indians and mestizos. The cult of the Virgin of Guadalupe or the feast of Corpus Christi in Cusco are more than Old World transplants. Both bespeak not only resistance but also the mobilization of resources and identity by Indians and mestizos.44
42 Robert Hefner, "Introduction: World Building and the Rationality of Conversion." In Conversion to Christianity, ed. R. Hefner, pp. 3-44 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993).
43 Thomas Heffernan, Sacred Biography, Saints and Their Biographies in the Middle Ages (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988); Ramsay MacMullen, Christianity and Paganism in the Fourth to Eight Centuries (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1997), 119.
44 There have been numerous works of late that have pursued Indian agency: Thomas A. Abercrombie, Pathways of Memory and Power (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1998); Elizabeth H. Boone and Walter D. Mignolo, eds., Writing Without Words; Alternative Literacies in Mesoamerica and the Andes (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1994); Louise M. Burkhart, The Slippery Earth: Nahua-Christian Moral Dialogue in Sixteenth-Century Mexico (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1989); Nancy Farris, Maya Society Under Colonial Rule: The Collective Enterprise of Survival (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1984); J. Jorge Klor de Alva, "Spiritual Conflict and Accommodation in New Spain: Toward a Typology of Aztec Responses to Christianity." In The Inca and Aztec State, 1400-1800: Anthropology and History, eds. G. Collier, R. Renaldo, and J. Wirth, pp. 345-366 (New York: Academic Press, 1982); Kenneth Mills, Idolatry and Its Enemies: Colonial Andean Religion andExtirpation, 1640-1750 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1997); Stafford Poole, C.M., Our Lady of Guadalupe: The Origins and Sources of a Mexican National Symbol, 1531-1797 (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1995); Cynthia Radding, Wandering Peoples, Colonialism, Ethnic Spaces, and Ecological Frontiers in Northwestern Mexico, 1700-1850 (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1997); William Rowe and Vivian Schilling, Memory and Modernity: Popular Culture in Latin America (London: Verso, 1991); Frank Salomon and George L. Urioste, trans. and eds., The Huarochiri Manuscript: A Testament of Ancient and Colonial Andean Religion
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