Rural History 2015

Panel 54

Organizers: Martinez Serna, Jose Gabriel (1); Stephens, Michele McArldle (2)

Affiliation: 1: CIESAS, Mexico; 2: West Virginia University

Title: The Transformation of Religious Practices and Ethnic Landscapes in Rural Latin America

"This panel explores the relationship between Indigenous religious practices and the construction of ethnic landscapes in rural Latin America from colonial times until the early Twentieth century. Although Indigenous religious practices underwent a profound transformation with the Spanish Conquest, after centuries of colonial rule Indian spirituality still depended to a great degree on the peculiarities of the rural landscapes of their homelands. These ethnic landscapes differed from each other due to differences in the geomorphology and microclimate of a region, but also due to human action in both economic and cultural terms. Four cases will be studied: two for rural Mexico and one each for the Southern Cone and Andean region.In the case of Mexico, Nahua colonists and local Chichimecs adapted to the socioeconomic and cultural practices of colonial viticulture to carve out a distinct ethnic space that straddled the traditional boundaries of Spanish and Indian in colonial society. In the western frontier, the Huicholes managed to resist the pressure of colonial authorities and adapt their religious practices to a landscape their ancestors had venerated, and they continued to do so even after centuries of cultural oppression by emphasizing its role in their religious beliefs. For South America, the emphasis will be on the effects of the irruption of modernity on the landscapes and religious practices of the native inhabitants of the region. First, the it will look at the the religious practices of the Indians of the Chilean and Argentine countryside, and how transformations of the region’s landscapes accompanied religious adaptations that preserved some of ancestral customs in ethnomedicine, but also incorporated aspects of Western medicine brought by missionaries. In contrast, the Bolivian peasants’ use of the coca leaf in their culture was challenged by the irruption of modernity in the countryside, first in the guise of republican nationalism during the Nineteenth century and later with Bolivia’s acquiescence of and eventual adoption of the discourse of the “Drug War”. This meant the destruction of coca fields and the social and cultural stigmatization of the Indians’ ancestral use of the coca leaf."



Commentator and co-Chair: Susan Deeds, Northern Arizona University (Emeritus), USA

Paper 1: Colonial Viticulture and the Transformation of Ethnic Landscapes in Rural Latin America

Gabriel Martínez-Serna, CIESAS Noreste, México

Paper 2: Threats to Huichol and Andean Sacred Rituals and Landscapes in the Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Centuries

Michele Marie McArdle Stephens, West Virginia University, USA

Paper 3: Competing Ethnic Landscapes and the Franciscans in Colonial San Luis Potosí

Laurent Corbeil, Univeristy of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA


Suggested deadline for sending completed papers 31 july 2015

© 2014 Rural History 2015