Sexuality in Colonial Spanish America

Asunción Lavrin

in The Oxford Handbook of Latin American History

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780195166217
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

Sexuality in Colonial Spanish America


This article follows some of the works that have tackled the sometimes thorny issue of how to recover and interpret the historical memory of sexual behavior. Sexuality is defined as the set of activities and forms of behavior directly related to contact between the sexes, as well as the ideas and ideology developed to understand the nature of sexual relations and the mechanisms devised to control it. That ideology was mostly formulated by religious authorities and enforced by the state through institutions such as the Inquisition and the ecclesiastical and civil courts. What seems to be lacking in the current historiography is the extension of some concepts based on human sexuality to larger arenas of human relations and governance, such as the analysis of medical views on sex and its effects on the development of health policies, the influence of religious discourse on sex and on legislation affecting the social order, the sexual content of religious discourse, the erotic content of religious writings, and the hidden sexual meanings of political discourse.

Keywords: sexual behavior; historiography; human relations; governance; health policy; religious discourse; social order; religious writings; political discourse

Article.  11242 words. 

Subjects: History ; Gender and Sexuality

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