New Christians and new world fears in seventeenth-century Peru
Spanish colonialism brought the Inquisition to the Viceroyalty of Peru in 1569, and from the end of the sixteenth century until Peru declared independence from Spain in 1820, Spanish Inquisitors prosecuted men and women for clandestinely practicing Jewish rites. In this paper, however, I will not talk about 'Jews' as such, nor try to discern who among Peru's New Christians bore 'Jewish' identities or followed Jewish practices and beliefs. Rather, using Inquisition records from the first half of the seventeenth century, and drawing heavily on the lengthy trial brought against Manuel Bautista Perez, I want to investigate some of the ways in which the 'Jew' grabbed colonial imaginations. I will be looking at accusations levied against 'New Christians, ' the conspiracies they supposedly engaged in, the terrors they provoked, the societal dangers they embodied.
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