Chapter

Conversion and Colonialism in Northern Mexico: The Tarahumara Response to the Jesuit Mission Program, 1601–1767

Robert W. Hefner

in Conversion to Christianity

Published by University of California Press

Published in print February 1993 | ISBN: 9780520078352
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520912564 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520078352.003.0005
Conversion and Colonialism in Northern Mexico: The Tarahumara Response to the Jesuit Mission Program, 1601–1767

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This chapter considers the issue of the Tarahumaras' conversion to Christianity. It also addresses why, at the time of the Jesuits' expulsion in 1767, only a small minority of Tarahumaras appear to have been well instructed in the basic tenets of the Catholic faith. It explores some of the limitations of the view that conversion entails a radical shift in the religious beliefs of individuals. A more relativistic concept of conversion is briefly reviewed that is better suited to understanding religious conversion. The Jesuit mission program is divided into mission creation, social, political and technological innovations, and religious life. The Tarahumaras of today consider their ritual actions to be complete unto themselves and to some degree intrinsically efficacious. The ideology of at least some segments of the Catholic church has now been so transformed that the missionaries themselves can contemplate the possibility of converting to the native religion.

Keywords: Tarahumaras; Christianity; Catholic faith; Jesuit mission program; religious conversion; Catholic church

Chapter.  14611 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Anthropology of Religion

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