Degree Year

2021

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Hispanic Studies

Advisor(s)

María Díaz Burgos

Keywords

Spanish Inquisition, Empire, Hechiceras, Sorcery, Alternative healing

Abstract

This honors thesis examines archival and fictional representations of women in the early modern Spanish empire who engaged in heterodox practices, considering the purposes and efficacy of their work, the material vestiges of the resistance to regulations imposed by Spanish Inquisitorial bodies, and the ways they mobilized traditional knowledge to construct intimate, diverse, and intergenerational communities. Examining questions of representation, resistance, and persecution in both the Iberian peninsula and the Viceroyalty of New Spain, this project considers the alignment of the period of transition––between the Middle Ages and Renaissance––with the escalation of imperial expansion as integral to the understanding of Spanish, Catholic restrictions of heterodox knowledge and practice. Through the analysis of Spanish Golden Age texts and inquisitorial records, this thesis demonstrates the extent to which hechiceras (sorceresses) effectively challenged and expanded orthodox understandings of medical and natural knowledge, in large part due to their ability to construct and maintain intimate and intergenerational communities of women, which materially and demonstrably threatened ecclesiastical authority over free will, sexuality, and healing.

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