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Staging History: Relics and Lutherans in Colonial Mexico and Brazil

May 31, 2019 - 12:30pm to 1:20pm
Bolivar House, 582 Alvarado Row, Stanford, CA

After the European conquest and occupation of the Americas, emerging colonial societies placed great importance on public festivals. Religious feasts and political affairs became occasions for hosting elaborate festivals that often featured theatrical performances. Many of them had a particular relationship to history. Throughout the sixteenth century, playwrights and actors (conquistadors, missionaries, and Amerindians) repeatedly evoked battles set in the Old World, the Mediterranean, and North Africa. Rather than reproducing these events faithfully, they re-imagined them through the lens of local experience. Over and over, participants contemplated the conquest of the Americas and its aftermath as they theatrically staged the various conflicts in which the Iberian monarchies were entangled (war with the Ottoman Turks, dynastic crises). Through this worldly theatrical practice, diverse inhabitants created some of the foundational historical narratives of the early Americas, especially regarding the conquests. This presentation turns to the late sixteenth century and specifically to how the Jesuits theatrically staged Lutheranism in festivals featuring relics to narrate the early history of Brazil and New Spain. 

Nicole T. Hughes is a postdoctoral fellow in the Mellon Fellowship of Scholars in the Humanities at Stanford University. Her research focuses on the early modern Iberian worlds, especially New Spain and Brazil. She holds a PhD from the Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures and the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society at Columbia University. Her research has received support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the John Carter Brown Library, and the Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut (Berlin).

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Center for Latin American Studies
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