Using records from the Lima office of the Spanish Inquisition, this article explores the cultural politics of Spanish colonialism in the Andes. Spain's imperial enterprise was rooted in the construction of new social beings at the core of modernity: (1) the racialized triad - Indian, Spaniard, and black; and (2) bureaucratized beings created in tandem with institutions of state. Conspiracies and confusions were the result as inquisitors, officers in the most modern bureaucracy of the time, intertwined stereotypes of Jews, Indians, African slaves, and women as part of an etiology of blame. Seventeenth-century Peru provides a glaring example of how fears could coalesce, develop, and ultimately balloon into absurd conspiracy theories, made all the more dangerous by an ideology of reason and the support of an institution of state. Copyright © 2006 by the American Society for Ethnohistory.
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