You are on page 1of 23

This article was downloaded by: [University of Notre Dame], [Ms Karen Graubart]

On: 07 October 2011, At: 07:58

Publisher: Routledge
Informa Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered
office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK

Slavery & Abolition

Publication details, including instructions for authors and
subscription information:

‘So color de una cofradía’: Catholic

Confraternities and the Development
of Afro-Peruvian Ethnicities in Early
Colonial Peru
Karen B. Graubart
Department of History, University of Notre Dame, Indiana,
46556, USA E-mail:

Available online: 23 Sep 2011

To cite this article: Karen B. Graubart (2011): ‘So color de una cofradía’: Catholic Confraternities
and the Development of Afro-Peruvian Ethnicities in Early Colonial Peru, Slavery & Abolition,

To link to this article:


Full terms and conditions of use:


This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Any
substantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing,
systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden.

The publisher does not give any warranty express or implied or make any representation
that the contents will be complete or accurate or up to date. The accuracy of any
instructions, formulae, and drug doses should be independently verified with primary
sources. The publisher shall not be liable for any loss, actions, claims, proceedings,
demand, or costs or damages whatsoever or howsoever caused arising directly or
indirectly in connection with or arising out of the use of this material.
Slavery & Abolition
2011, pp. 1 – 22, iFirst article

‘So color de una cofradı́a’: Catholic

Confraternities and the Development
of Afro-Peruvian Ethnicities in Early
Downloaded by [University of Notre Dame], [Ms Karen Graubart] at 07:58 07 October 2011

Colonial Peru
Karen B. Graubart

Enslaved and free Africans in Lima, Peru, joined Catholic cofradı́as (religious sodalities)
in order to form community. As they did this, they also discovered and created fissures
within their number. Early cofradı́a records demonstrate how Afro-descent communities
drew upon their contemporary experiences, including adapting the European rhetoric of
‘difference’ deployed against them to identify and police their own divisions during the
first century of the institutionalisation of African slavery in Spanish America. These
documents also provide us with a history of how African ‘ethnicities’ came to be central
to diasporic identities.

In 1791, the pseudonymous author Hesperióphylo offered the reading public of the
Mercurio Peruano, an important journal of Peru’s Creole enlightenment, two short
essays titled ‘Idea de las congregaciones públicas de los negros bozales’ or ‘A descrip-
tion of the public meetings of African-born black slaves’.1 Premised on the inhumanity
of slavery and the consolation enslaved Africans found in the Catholic Church, the
essays contemplated the ways in which these ‘unhappy men and women’ organised
themselves into cofradı́as (religious sodalities), which both deepened their relationship
with the Church and provided more secular entertainment and community. Indeed,
African cofradı́as were formed within a decade of the conquest of Peru in 1531–
1532, and – like Spanish and indigenous and mixed cofradı́as – flourished in the
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, despite repeated attempts by the Church and
the Crown to rein in their enthusiastic increase.2 Hesperióphylo noted that ‘the first
thing [slaves arriving from Africa] do is join a cofradı́a; these maintain the social
networks of their respective communities’.

Karen B. Graubart is the Carl E. Koch Associate Professor in the Department of History, University of Notre
Dame, Indiana 46556, USA. Email:

ISSN 0144-039X print/1743-9523 online/11/000001– 22 # 2011 Taylor & Francis
2 Karen B. Graubart
Those ‘respective communities’ were the African ethnic groups to which the
enslaved were thought to belong, the 10 major castas or naciones, which the author
enumerated as: ‘Terranovos’, ‘Lúcumes’, ‘Mandingas’, ‘Cambundas’, ‘Carabalı́es’,
‘Cangoes’, ‘Chalas’, ‘Huarochirı́es’, ‘Congos’ and ‘Misangas’.3 These terms, he tells us,
did not necessarily refer to birthplaces. Some referred to a coastal port of embarkation
for the New World, while the enslaved more likely came from interior locations and
were transferred to the coast; others he called ‘arbitrary’, including ‘Huarochirı́es’,
perhaps referring to the slaves sent to work on the agricultural plantations that provi-
Downloaded by [University of Notre Dame], [Ms Karen Graubart] at 07:58 07 October 2011

sioned Lima. The author compared the savage behaviour of these ethnically distinct
bozales (African-born or non-Hispanicised slaves) with the more civilised demeanour
of Creole slaves, those acclimated to Lima, having shed their originary difference in
favour of Peruvianess.4 Characteristically, the cofradı́as founded by these castas
would process on holy days in the most obstreperous, noisy and disagreeable
fashion, he complained, dressed as devils and animals, bearing weapons, with their
faces painted ‘according to the fashion of their homelands’.5
Hesperióphylo assumed that casta – whatever that was – was not only the defining
factor for slaves arriving from African locations, but had always been so. Black cofra-
dı́as, he tells us, were founded by naciones:
In past times the Terranovos and Lúcumes were dedicated to the cult of the image of
San Salvador in the great convent of Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes . . . The Man-
dingas likewise had a hermandad in the Church of the great Convent of
San Francisco dedicated to the Virgin under the advocation of Nuestra Señora de
los Reyes.6

While most modern scholars of the Atlantic slave trade agree that these names – Man-
dinga, Congo, Terranovo, etc. – are ambiguous in African terms, there is no doubt that
they came in the New World to represent communities both from the perspective of
slave sellers and purchasers – who associated certain attributes and abilities with
each group – and from the perspective of the enslaved themselves.7 But these terms
were not necessarily ‘natural’ identities for enslaved Africans; they had to become
markers of community and belonging, and even so they were only some in a series
of terms that described Africans’ understanding of their place in Peru and the world.8
In fact, the records of Lima’s earliest confraternities provide narratives missing from
our understanding of how men and women would come to inhabit the categories nat-
uralised by archival documents: Indians, blacks and all the mixed-heritage names of
great or little traction. These categories began as shorthand for lawmakers, administra-
tors and merchants, who used them to identify people who owed taxes or received
corporate privileges or were legally (or illegally) enslaved.9 But relatively quickly
some of those described by these terms – which ignored existing distinctions of
status, local ethnicity and other historically loaded issues – redefined and even
embraced them, recognising the power of appropriating the rhetoric of those in power.
Historians and anthropologists have long studied the ethnogenesis or creolisation of
indigenous, African-descent and European-descent communities across the Atlantic.
These histories of men and women formulating unique diasporic identities out of
Slavery & Abolition 3

variegated African, European and American experiences have been vital to the devel-
opment of a truly Atlantic history, one which sees connections and transformations in
the terrible early modern meetings of the continents.10 Drawing in part on a superb
literature on the British and Portuguese Atlantic, historians of colonial Latin
America have begun to ask how Africans, especially in cities like Lima and Mexico
City, where they might live in conditions that allowed for some autonomy and
might learn from their close relationships with indigenous and European men and
women, transformed and created their own colonial identities.11 But this conversation
Downloaded by [University of Notre Dame], [Ms Karen Graubart] at 07:58 07 October 2011

is only at its beginning, and given the remarkable resources available to social histor-
ians of Spanish colonial cities, it has the potential to change how we imagine that
ethnogenesis – in concert with our understandings of the transformations of other
colonial communities and groups as well.
This article will use the fragmentary cofradı́a records of Lima’s Archivo Arzobispal
to ask what the rhetoric of African and African-descent cofrades, free and enslaved, tells
us about the development of an ethnically hierarchical city during the years of its for-
mation, 1540–1640. It does so by considering their arguments for superiority in the
Catholic world in the context of the rhetoric deployed against them by Europeans.
In particular, these documents demonstrate how the peoples we group together as
‘Afro-Peruvians’ saw distinctions and schisms within that community, and utilised
this rhetoric to identify and police those divisions during the first century of the insti-
tutionalisation of African slavery in South America.

African Lima
Lima was founded as a ‘Spanish’ city in 1535, by which its founders meant that they
had removed many of its indigenous inhabitants and then imported a black and indi-
genous workforce to provide the necessities and comforts for its European settlers. The
kuraka or indigenous local leader of the Lima valley, Taulichusco, was removed, along
with his subjects, from the territory chosen by Pizarro for his new city and resettled at
its margins.12 But the rural town had to be remade into a classical European city,
including clearing its ceremonial huacas or religious sites, and building the adobe
houses and gridded streets for its notables. Lima’s evicted indigenes, now tributaries
of new overlords, built this new city, alongside the indigenous men attached to enco-
miendas in the greater Lima region, as part of the nascent labour draft or mita.13
In addition to the unofficial but fundamental ‘Indian’ presence in the city, Lima also
became African. A few Africans accompanied Pizarro’s forces into the Andes, most
memorably when they arrived at Tumbés in 1528, and the indigenous residents
were reportedly surprised to learn that their skins did not lighten with washing.14
The discovery and appropriation of the Incas’ wealth wooed settlers, and thus their
servants and slaves, from the rest of the Americas towards Peru, but the large indigen-
ous population made the massive importation of slaves unnecessary for the first few
By the 1550s, however, the commercial importation of African slaves was under way.
Bowser, in his magisterial survey of Africans in early colonial Peru, estimates that Lima
4 Karen B. Graubart

Table 1 Ethnic breakdown of the population of Lima, 1593 – 1636

1593 1600 1614 1636
Blacks 6690 6631 10,386 13,620
Mulattos – – 744 861
Spaniards 6100∗ 7193 11,867 11,088
Indians – 438 1978 1426
Mestizos – – 192 377
‘Chinese’ – – – 22
Downloaded by [University of Notre Dame], [Ms Karen Graubart] at 07:58 07 October 2011

Total population 12,790 14,262 25,167 27,394

The category of ‘Spaniards’ in 1593 included indigenous and mixed populations.

contained some 1500 Afro-Peruvians by the mid 1550s, approximately the same
number as inhabitants of Spanish origin.15 The rough parity between Spaniards and
Africans continued over the course of the century, according to the sparse (and some-
what incommensurate) documentation we have (see Table 1).16
Another important characteristic of Lima’s African-descent population was its free
contingent, estimated by Jouve Martı́n at nearly a quarter by the turn of the seven-
teenth century.17 The persistent and unpopular efforts by the viceroyalty to collect
tribute from free people of colour underlines how substantial that population must
have seemed to authorities desperate for more rents.18
How did so many enslaved men and women gain their freedom? A small number
arrived free from Spain or achieved manumission elsewhere in the colonies, but
most likely gained freedom in Lima itself: most slave owners in that city had but a
few slaves who were used for domestic or artisan labour rather than agricultural
gang labour.19 These, like their predecessors in Iberian cities like Seville, might have
earned extra cash selling food in the plaza or taking on odd jobs for others; many
owners rented out their slaves’ labour to other employers for a fee called a jornal.
Depending upon the arrangement between owners, employers and the enslaved
labourer, the worker might keep a fraction of that jornal as his or her own, saving it
towards the price of manumission.20 While these sorts of arrangements could be extre-
mely exploitative, they also gave enslaved men and women access to cash and a certain
flexibility of their time and movement, all key to allowing increased manumission as
well as the development of Afro-Peruvian cofradı́as.21

African slavery and the development of black cofradı́as

Both the Spanish Crown and the Catholic Church generally favoured the creation of
parallel institutions for the peoples they incorporated into their political spheres.
Iberian Catholic monarchs had been negotiating limited autonomy for conquered
Muslims and Jews during the entire period of Christianisation of the peninsula,
which entitled them not only to continue practising their religions, but also to main-
tain their own legal systems, judged by their qadi or rabbi, in exchange for paying
special taxes.22 In Seville, this corporate authority was also invoked for what the city
Slavery & Abolition 5

called esclavos negros, referring to darker-skinned slaves from West and Central Africa
(as opposed to esclavos blancos, Muslim slaves mainly from North Africa, who relied
upon their local qadi). The Castilian monarch Enrique III (r. 1390–1406) was the
first to appoint an alcalde de los negros for Seville, with the authority to act as a
kind of ombudsman for the African community – the alcalde could negotiate
between slaves, but also between slaves and masters, presumably in a non-binding
way. In their 1475 order appointing the royal slave Juan de Valladolid as alcalde, the
monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella called him ‘mayoral [overseer] and judge of all the
Downloaded by [University of Notre Dame], [Ms Karen Graubart] at 07:58 07 October 2011

negros and negras and loros [mulattos], free and captive, that are in . . . Seville and
in all of its archbishopric’. The monarchs asserted that ‘the said negros and negras
and loros and loras may not hold festivals nor courts among themselves except in
your presence’.23 The alcalde’s complete functions are still unknown, but it is clear
that one of his major roles was to control African cultural celebrations in the city.
The Crown saw this as a way to assimilate corporate groups while maintaining
useful boundaries, and extended the political technology to its overseas colonies,
wherein ‘Indians’ were both assimilated as vassals yet guaranteed limited political
autonomy under their caciques, in the hopes of continuing their economic
The Catholic Church likewise saw benefit in recognising existing group distinctions,
or creating new ones, as part of its conversion mission. Lay confraternities were, from
their modern incarnation in the early Middle Ages, associations that catered to the
interests of self-defined groups. While many confraternities were open and diverse,
others were restricted – for example, by guild, gender, social status or birthplace.25
In addition to facilitating the shared worship of a saint and preparation for a good
death, they also functioned as mutual aid and burial societies, collecting and redistri-
buting alms within the group.
By the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, Iberian port cities like Lisbon,
Cádiz and Seville, which received the bulk of African slaves, also founded Catholic
confraternities to attend to the religious needs of the enslaved.26 These were also the
cities through which many Africans passed en route to the New World, and thus
they may have brought this experience along with them.27
Some confraternities welcomed enslaved members. Lisbon’s Misericórdia, founded
in 1498, was an irmandad (brotherhood) dedicated to charitable works, and slaves and
servants often joined along with the families they served. While Africans could partici-
pate, they did not take leadership roles in the institution.28 In other cases, the Church
targeted enslaved converts with their own brotherhoods, as was the case of Our Lady of
the Rosary, which created confraternities specifically for enslaved persons by the late
fifteenth century.29 In 1390, roughly when Castile instituted its alcalde de los negros
in Seville, that city’s archbishop, Gonzalo de Mena, apparently founded a chapel
and hospital which, if not initially intended for Seville’s negros, were solely associated
with that community by the following century.30
As post-1492 Iberia struggled with its own concerns over separation and inte-
gration, many confraternities and other institutions took care to exclude people of
African descent, and African (and, increasingly, mulatto) confraternities responded
6 Karen B. Graubart
in kind.31 In 1584, the Dominican Rosario de los Negros de Triana (Seville) made the
politics of its membership requirements clear:
this cofradı́a accepts no gentlemen or lords as cofrades, nor men of power or illus-
trious lineage, but instead all the morenos and morenas, such that none of us is
subject to such people, but we are all equal, being, as is said, all morenos [dark-
skinned men] and morenas [dark-skinned women] of good lives and reputation.32

But it was in the New World that black cofradı́as coincided with a rapidly expanding
enslaved population, eager Catholic missionaries, and a more flexible and ambiguous
Downloaded by [University of Notre Dame], [Ms Karen Graubart] at 07:58 07 October 2011

social milieu than that offered by Old World cities. In those locations, not only would
black cofradı́as thrive, but they would also become vehicles for the formation of local
identities and group cohesiveness.33

‘So color de una cofradı́a’: black cofradı́as in Lima

The Catholic Church in Lima seems to have admitted Africans, like indigenous con-
verts, to its sodalities nearly from the beginning.34 The first evidence comes from a
complaint heard by Lima’s cabildo or municipal government in 1549, stating that
slaves were getting together for dances, robbery and drunken fiestas ‘so color de una
cofradı́a’ (‘under the guise of a confraternity’). In quick response, the cabildo
ordered that no groups larger than three blacks could congregate for dances or
walking around the city or in a cofradı́a, with the exception of Sundays and holy
days, between communion and mass, in the church itself.35 This concern was reiter-
ated in the reforms of the Catholic Church’s Concilio Limense of 1582.36 According
to their critics, enslaved Africans were using the cofradı́a much the way they had organ-
ised themselves civilly in Seville under the alcalde de los negros, who supervised fiestas
and dances (and maintained social order, as the cabildo hoped the Church would
here). But the Catholic Church had long mistrusted all cofradı́as; Africans and
Indians simply raised additional concerns as new converts and as people with
languages and cultural practices not readily understood by Spanish officials.37
Despite some evidence of flexibility, most African and indigenous cofrades in Lima
came to worship in ethnically specific cofradı́as. Formerly multi-ethnic brotherhoods
came to exclude or limit their participation. Many explicitly refused the election of
non-Spaniards to the positions of mayordomos (annually elected leaders) and veinti-
cuatros (voting members who made policy decisions). For example, the 1603 consti-
tution of the Cofradı́a de Nuestra Señora de la Soledad restricted its veinticuatros to
those who were not ‘mulattos and mestizos, and should any of these be accepted as
such, the mayordomos should eject them without impediment’.38 In this case, the
refusal of Africans and indigenous veinticuatros was too obvious to mention, but
apparently there was latent concern about the ambiguity of people of mixed parentage
taking up leadership roles.
We have no archival evidence of any African participation in Lima’s cofradı́as,
however, until the end of the sixteenth century. Probably the oldest of the African
cofradı́as was Nuestra Señora de la Antigua, founded prior to 1574. La Antigua may
Slavery & Abolition 7

well be the cofradı́a against which the cabildo heard complaints in 1549; its member-
ship claimed in 1585 that it had been founded more than 40 years earlier.39 The Fran-
ciscan cofradı́a of Nuestra Señora de los Reyes was, by the turn of the sixteenth century,
the second-oldest long-standing African confraternity and was considered the largest
and wealthiest by far, according to the Church’s own census.40 The few extant wills left
by free blacks in the sixteenth century refer to membership in these two, as well as in
Other African cofradı́as survived alongside these. In 1619, an official report by the
Downloaded by [University of Notre Dame], [Ms Karen Graubart] at 07:58 07 October 2011

archbishopric stated that there were 15 cofradı́as devoted to African and African-
descent peoples, up from 10 in 1585, and there were surely numerous others that
briefly came into being and dissolved, due to lack of funds or worshippers.42
Two kinds of contribution were necessary to become an active member of a cofradı́a,
both of which could be in short supply to an enslaved or newly freed person: an
entrance fee and flexible time for group activities, including worship and alms collec-
tion.43 Yet Lima provided some opportunities for both. The jornal system and the
dependence upon slaves as household or artisan labour meant that both slaves and
freedpersons might have the ability to attend services or carry out institutional
tasks, as well as contribute financially; but their economic and social instability
meant that their cofradı́as likewise had precarious existences. The mayordomos of
the Jesuit cofradı́a of San Salvador complained once that:
[the] cofradı́a has not processed for a year . . . it is impossible to gather people
together so early, as is ordered, because they are slaves . . . some of them cannot
leave their work so early because their masters won’t let them, and the others
because they support themselves with the work.44

The mayordomo of Nuestra Señora del Rosario in Lima, in 1608, explained that he
could not help indict his predecessor for corruption because
he is quite busy in taking care of what his master orders, particularly in make carbon
in Pachacamac and other places outside the city where he usually spends one week
or two or three and sometimes a whole month, and for this reason he has been
absent from membership meetings that are held on Sundays in the chapel.45

African cofradı́as faced special challenges in maintaining their numbers and their
funding over time.
But cofradı́as also could soften the rough edges for enslaved or impoverished urba-
nites, particularly domestic servants and slaves who were likely to be abandoned by
their masters when serious illness or injury struck. The accounts of Nuestra Señora
de los Reyes indicate that part of its funds was used to subsidise the funerals of
members and other community members. A common entry reads: ‘there are thirty
seven pesos and three reales that were spent on the funeral of a negro biafara, slave
of don Pedro Hoces de Ulloa, because his master only gave twenty pesos and the
funeral costs fifty-seven’.46
This aspect of the cofradı́a – as a kind of mutual aid and burial society for the need-
iest – also gave African and casta cofradı́as a reputation for disorder and corruption.
8 Karen B. Graubart
Many of the records in the archives are accusations of mismanagement against cofradı́a
officers. In some cases, it is clear that there was a lack of oversight, leaving the groups
open to the predations of con artists or simply lazy leadership.47 In other cases, we can
see that the assumption of authorities and elites that blacks could not manage their
own affairs led them to exaggerate the problems of African brotherhoods, when
non-African cofradı́as suffered from the same crises. Indeed, in both Seville and
Lima crowds made fun of the black and mulatto brotherhoods during their solemn
processions, to the point where in 1603 the archbishop of Seville ordered that no
Downloaded by [University of Notre Dame], [Ms Karen Graubart] at 07:58 07 October 2011

blacks process for three or four years. Some of the run-ins led to physical confronta-
tions, whether prompted by the cofrades or their detractors, in both cities.48
African and African-descent cofradı́as thus faced prejudicial readings of their every-
day activities, through a developing narrative of cultural inferiority. Had Africans been
integrated into multi-ethnic cofradı́as, they would likely have been excluded from pos-
itions of authority and denied access to equal shares of community funds. This proved
true when the indigenous cofradı́a of Copacabana in Lima experienced a miracle at the
turn of the seventeenth century that led to an influx of new members, from ‘priests and
judges, Inquisitors, and all the great people and the common folk’, pouring funds into
the organisation’s coffers. However, all this wealth and attention meant that the indi-
genous mayordomos lost control over their finances, and were left arguing with church
officials about their right even to see their account books.49 Instead, Africans and their
New World-born descendants mostly joined cofradı́as set aside for themselves. Yet
within these semi-autonomous institutions, they themselves decided that they were
not always similar, and they drew upon the rhetorics of difference and separation
often used against them as they navigated their increasingly complicated society.

Morenos, negros and the colour of freedom in the sixteenth century

In 1574, the mayordomos of Nuestra Señora de la Antigua, the oldest of Lima’s African-
descent cofradı́as, complained that the Franciscan cofradı́a of Nuestra Señora del
Rosario had been given a more prestigious placement in the procession for Corpus
Christi. In the words of the complainants:
We, the moreno [dark] brothers of the cofradı́a of Nuestra Señora de la Antigua of
the Holy Church of this city, state that on the day of the festival of Our Lord last year,
in the procession we had a disagreement with the brothers of the cofradı́a of Nuestra
Señora of the monastery of San Francisco, because they wished to carry their banner
behind ours, and the alcaldes ordinarios . . . ordered that the banner of San Francisco
go behind ours, which upset us, because our cofradı́a ought to receive preference . . .
because it belongs to the Cathedral, even though the other’s is older.50

Apparently, this ‘disagreement’ turned violent, as the two cofradı́as grabbed at and tore
each other’s banners, despite the ruling of the local officials on the spot that Rosario
had the right to the more privileged position. La Antigua ceded, believing that the offi-
cials simply acted ‘to avoid conflict’, and that this decision would not be binding upon
future processions. When they learned otherwise, they filed suit.
Slavery & Abolition 9

But the testimony given in this dispute utilised a defamation tactic more subtle than
the simple accusation of violence during a religious procession. In their brief, the
mayordomos of La Antigua referred both to themselves and their foes as morenos,
while the mayordomos of Rosario in their response referred to La Antigua’s member-
ship as negros, reserving the term morenos only for themselves. This small linguistic
point seems to have been a clear insult, one intended to cast aspersions upon La Anti-
gua’s case: negro was the term commonly used by the authorities for all those of non-
mixed African descent, but appears now to have connoted ‘slave’ within the African-
Downloaded by [University of Notre Dame], [Ms Karen Graubart] at 07:58 07 October 2011

descent community. Lima’s free black community regularly referred to themselves as

morenos when they sought out a notary, and so the Rosario mayordomos were attempt-
ing to tarnish their rivals’ reputation with this pointed phrasing.51
The linguistic sparring seems to derive from the fact that La Antigua was founded by
slaves, though its membership, especially its officers, included free persons.52 Yet
Rosario confraternities were usually founded on behalf of slaves, and a roster for
Rosario from 1608 – the earliest yet located – names 51 members and/or donors;
seven of these are called ‘slaves’, only three are called ‘free’.53 The other 41 carry no
marker of condition, though most of these bear regional surnames (for example,
‘Angola’, ‘Anchica’, ‘Biafara’, ‘Sao Tomé’), suggesting that they were bozales, born in
Africa and brought to Lima as slaves, while just four have Hispanicised surnames,
likely signifying that they are second generation or criollos, and more likely to have
acquired freedom. The three specifically denoted ‘free’ on the roster were all officers
of the sodality, and it is possible that the complaining mayordomos were referring to
their condition rather than that of the entire membership. Given the demographic
trend, it seems likely that 30 years earlier there would have been even fewer free Afri-
cans in Lima, and thus the vast majority of both cofradı́as would have been enslaved
men and women.
But the association with freedom was clearly of great concern to Afro-Peruvian
cofrades, and they often used this language of moreno/negro to underscore their free
condition. In a case from 1598 about the mishandling of cofradı́a funds, the
accused, Anton Aparias, called himself moreno and referred to his nemesis as ‘Fran-
cisco Gamarra negro’. In a follow-up, the latter called himself ‘Francisco de Gamarra
free moreno, bricklayer, official of the Holy Inquisition’.54 Gamarra, demonstrably
proud of his accomplishments, took seriously the aspersions cast upon him by
another free man. Because Lima and its cofradı́as were so interwoven with slavery,
those who were able to achieve manumission developed a language that drew upon
European colour distinctions to set themselves off from the less fortunate majority.
Authority figures within the Catholic Church used these two terms interchangeably
(with some preference for negro) when referring to Afro-Peruvians. Since nearly all
African-descent peoples in the New World shared at least some link with slavery, Spa-
niards had little interest in defining how distant that relationship might have been:
dark skin was by now indubitably associated with slavery. And when non-Spaniards
were naming themselves to themselves, terms like negro, moreno, mulato, indio and
mestizo were often abandoned altogether, mainly to be introduced by outsiders or
authority figures, or when casting aspersions on, or correcting, others. The nuanced
10 Karen B. Graubart
correction of moreno for negro was a revolt against that elision: as Lima’s population of
enslaved Africans swelled, its free minority developed their own political language,
which drew upon the discourses of those in power, but also reconfigured them. Yet
as an attempt to make a winning argument to the Church, it most likely had no

Mulatos, sons of Spanish men: mixed parentage and conflict

Downloaded by [University of Notre Dame], [Ms Karen Graubart] at 07:58 07 October 2011

As Africans became a larger share of Lima’s population, sexual relationships (coerced

and not) between Africans and non-Africans produced children whose status was
ambiguous: they might be enslaved or free, depending upon the status of their
mother; they might receive privileges or financial benefits, depending upon the
relationship with their father. The existence of categories like mulato, mestizo and zam-
baigo owes in great part to the ambiguity of these children’s place in a legal and econ-
omic framework predicated upon a simple juridical division between ‘Indians’ and
‘Spaniards’. The state took contradictory positions depending upon perceived benefits
to itself: free blacks and mulattos owed tribute, like Indians, but they were subject to
Spanish rather than indigenous legal jurisdictions. Biological race or phenotype was of
less importance to the Crown than was the flow of rents. Confraternity records reveal
that Afro-Peruvians sometimes sought to exploit these confusions and, utilising the
discourses of the day, made strong claims for moral and political differences
between negros and mulatos.
One such early conflict appears in the records. It was a challenge from the mayor-
domos of La Antigua to the mayordomos of Las Vı́rgenes (Santa Justa y Santa
Rufina) over their place in the processions of 1585. The mayordomos of Las Vı́rgenes
had asked the ecclesiastic judge ‘that your Mercy find that we occupy the better place in
the Corpus Christi procession than that of the said negros because we are sons of
Spanish men, and persons, because of this, of greater dignity than the negros’. This
was, of course, met with outrage by the mayordomos of La Antigua, who rebutted:
‘they are mulatos zambaigos, sons of negra women and Indian women and mulata
women, and others of morena women and they have no more calidad [status] than
do the cofrades of La Antigua’.55
La Antigua, as we have seen, was a cofradı́a that called itself moreno and free with great
pride; an unlikely description undermined by at least one witness in the hearing who
spoke of their ‘many captive’ members.56 Their rival for position, Las Vı́rgenes, called
itself a cofradı́a de los mulatos, though its own evidence reveals that its membership like-
wise was much more diverse; in the words of a witness, there were ‘three or four mulatto
sons of Spaniards, and the rest of them are zambaigos children of negros and Indians and
some are morenos and free’.57 This conflict is important because it reminds us that ‘Spa-
nishness’ and freedom were what conferred status, while distinctions between other
ethnic groups were not yet entirely fixed, but clearly of interest and import to partici-
pants in this debate. As such, the arguments utilised by the cofradı́as were not premised
so much on phenotype, rather on common discourses of civilisation and civility (which
would eventually themselves become tethered to skin and biology, but here were still
Slavery & Abolition 11

relatively free signifiers). La Antigua argued their eminence in the city, their antiquity,
that they were ‘free morenos and honourable people’, and more numerous and wealthy
than their counterparts in Las Vı́rgenes. A witness went on to claim that he had seen ‘the
cofrades and mayordomos [of Las Vı́rgenes] drunk and they are men who have no job nor
house’. This line of questioning was even assisted by one of Las Vı́rgenes’s own members,
who admitted that La Antigua’s brothers ‘have helped and do help [Las Vı́rgenes] with
their charity and their wealth’. Students of colonial history will recognise this discourse
as common both to European descriptions of the barbaric state of many indigenous and
Downloaded by [University of Notre Dame], [Ms Karen Graubart] at 07:58 07 October 2011

African peoples, as well as the political debates around mestizos and mixing between the
Here we can discern not only the new question of whether mulattos fell higher or
lower on the social pole than free morenos (let alone negros), but also what a
mulatto was: was he the son of his Spanish father or the son of his African mother?
Was he, indeed, the son of a Spaniard and an African or was he the son of an
African and an Indian (sometimes known as zambaigo), with no claim to Spanishness
at all? An analysis of the language of their Spanish witnesses reveals that none of these,
which included priests and a Spaniard employed as a painter, used ethnic or colour
language, but instead each spoke of the honour, wealth, marital status, religiosity
and employment of the aggrieved. It is clear that the inevitable mixtures of the numeri-
cally dominant groups were starting to pose interesting problems for some, and pro-
vided an opportunity to assert ethnic superiority, though not yet in normalised ways.
It is equally certain that ‘ethnic’ cofradı́as could be mixed and diverse, yet benefitted
from ascribing a mythical homogeneity to themselves, which they intersected with
borrowings from colonial calidad.
African cofrades were apparently borrowing from at least two contemporary
discourses when they formulated these attacks on mulatto cofradı́as. The first was
an ongoing Iberian argument about the best source of slaves. According to Suárez
de Figueroa, writing in 1615, Spain had three types of slave:
they are either Turks or Berbers or negros; the two former kind tend to be treacher-
ous, badly-intentioned, thieves, drunkards, full of a thousand sensualities and com-
mitters of a thousand crimes. They go about continually plotting against the life of
their masters; their service is suspicious, dangerous, and thus worthy of avoiding.
The negros are of a far better nature, easier to deal with, and, once trained, of
great utility.59

As is well known, this line of thought was picked up and used to differentiate among
the various negros as well. Slave traders not only recognised that men and women from
certain regions had specific skills (as metalworkers or agriculturalists, for example),
but also priced their wares depending upon assessments of their supposed natures:
‘docile’ bozales (non-assimilated or newly arrived Africans) versus lazy, resistant criol-
los (Spanish speakers or those raised in the colony) or rebellious Wolofs (due to the
influence of Islam).60
The second discourse that resonates here is the ongoing debate about another group
of mixed parentage: mestizos. From the early sixteenth century, Spanish officials were
12 Karen B. Graubart
making concerned pronouncements about mestizos ‘wandering in vagabondage’,
avoiding employment and causing trouble.61 The main crime of the first generations
of indigenous Spanish children seems to have been their failure to be fully assimilated
into either society, leaving them beyond the purview of any control or tax.62 They
were, as a result, characterised as lazy, drunken and unemployed, terms then picked
up readily to be used towards other liminal peoples, those who fell between the
majority groups (and thus ran the risk of being perceived as shirking group responsi-
bility or taking unentitled privileges).
Downloaded by [University of Notre Dame], [Ms Karen Graubart] at 07:58 07 October 2011

There are other, briefer examples of this use of mulato as a kind of catch-all for
liminality and immorality. In a litigation brought by the cofradı́a of Nuestra Señora
de Loreto in 1623, Pedro de Paz and Agustı́n de los Reyes each accused the other of
criminal activity. Reyes accused Paz, ‘moreno, who claims to be a veinticuatro’, of
having pawned all the cofradı́a’s possessions (including the Virgin’s crown) during
his tenure as mayordomo. Paz replied, through the hand of his chaplain, that
Agustı́n de los Reyes ‘mulato sanbo [zambaigo] who has made himself mayordomo
and cofrade . . . illegitimately . . . has usurped much of the wealth and the charitable
contributions of the cofradı́a that were in his power and moreover keeps a false
account book’.63 Each time Paz referred to Reyes he repeated the phrase mulato
sanbo, while calling all the other cofrades simply by their Christian name. As in the
case of negro, we are seeing Afro-Peruvians concoct a denigrating category that
reflected internal divisions emerging in their larger society.
By the turn of the seventeenth century, African-descent peoples in Lima were
becoming even more heterogeneous: the second generation of men and women
born to an African parent might well have a Spanish or indigenous parent as well.
If the non-African parent was the father, that parentage would have no effect on the
child’s legal status as slave or free, but it is clear that mulattos wanted to draw upon
the privilege that Spanish association could bring them. In response, Africans
turned the discourse of mestizaje as a social problem against mulattos. While the mem-
bership logs of these cofradı́as show that in most cases they welcomed a broad mixture
of members without concern as to parentage, the existence of exclusive cofradı́as –
even if only in name – and the contemporaneous discourse demonstrate that
African-descent peoples were developing their self-images in conversation with the
ruling elites. As we move into the seventeenth century, with an increase not only in
the volume of the slave trade but in its geographic reach, we will see even more
careful parsing as Africans responded to their place in colonial society.

Managing heterogeneity in the seventeenth century: castas and naciones

The men and women brought to the New World through the Atlantic slave trade were
far from homogeneous. The recognition of the variety of naciones or ethnic groups
from which the trade drew dates back at least to the seventeenth century, when
critics like the Jesuit Alonso de Sandoval attributed not only particular knowledges,
but also certain characters and emotional or intellectual attributes to African
regions.64 By the eighteenth century, the authorities assumed that enslaved men and
Slavery & Abolition 13

women from Africa would ‘naturally’ organise themselves by culture or place of origin.
This process had its roots in the seventeenth century and, rather than natural, it was a
gradually constructed way of creating social networks, and one that likely contributed
to the creation of those naturalised definitions.
As we have seen, in the sixteenth century, other schisms occupied Afro-Peruvian
cofradı́as. But at the turn of the seventeenth century, some Afro-Peruvian cofradı́as
did either align with a particular nación or divide along nación lines. In this final
section, I will analyse that latter process – one which is often articulated as character-
Downloaded by [University of Notre Dame], [Ms Karen Graubart] at 07:58 07 October 2011

istic of an Atlantic ethnogenesis – and contextualise it alongside these other processes

of ethnic formation. While some Afro-Peruvian cofradı́as came to define themselves by
nación, by no means all did, and many continued to have different kinds of
The geographic origins of slaves entering the Lima market changed over the
decades, as Portuguese traders ventured southward along the western coast of the
African continent. But traders also built on, and exacerbated, existing African con-
flicts, creating what Joseph Miller calls a ‘violence frontier’ on coasts that spread pol-
itical conflict into internal regions.65 It is important to note, following Philip Morgan
and others, that our knowledge of that geography is limited. Slave traders gave
enslaved men and women surname-like markers, appended to their baptismal
names, which appear to denote ethnic or national origins. These names, often referred
to as nación or casta in the records, more likely refer to the port where they were loaded
onto slave ships; actual origins might have been far from those ports.66 For this reason,
we cannot assume that the ethnic labels attached to the individuals herein discussed
refer necessarily to pre-enslavement connections or ethnicities, nor should we
assume that those ethnicities were inevitably static either.67 Yet some recent work on
early Peru suggests that these ethnic markers at least indicated some cultural alliance,
whether that had its origins in Africa or in the New World.68
The earliest African slaves in Lima either came through Seville or embarked directly
from Upper Guinea.69 By the late sixteenth century, West Central Africans began to
predominate, drawing upon conflicts in the Kongo and Angolan regions, at the
same time as the volume of the slave trade began to expand. Lima’s African population
does not precisely reflect the shifting demographics of the overall Atlantic slave trade,
as Lima’s markets favoured Upper Guineans (described by contemporary slaveholders
and merchants as more apt for domestic service and skilled professions) rather than
Angolans (who were considered more suitable for field work).70 We would expect,
as well, that cofradı́a membership would favour domestic servants and artisans, who
would have had the time and financial assets necessary to participate; these are also
the groups most likely to have achieved freedom, for the same reasons.
On the other hand, individuals referred to by the nación ‘Angola’ or ‘Congo’ would,
whatever their origins, have come through a region that had frequent contact with
Europeans, and especially Catholic missionaries. By 1608, the Kingdom of Kongo
had already converted to Christianity, and the first Dominican cofradı́a (of Nuestra
Señora del Rosario) was founded there in 1610. Kongolese confraternities were the
preserve of the upper classes, so it is unlikely that the men and women who were
14 Karen B. Graubart
sold into Atlantic slavery from this region had direct experience of participating in a
Central African confraternity, but Catholicism was not exotic and its ability to provide
social networks for its members could have been common knowledge.71
With this growing heterogeneity, and especially the increase in groups other than
Senegambians and Guineans, some cofradı́as started to take on an ‘ethnic’ association.
In some cases, formerly heterogeneous cofradı́as began to group all or part of their
membership by nación; in other cases, new cofradı́as were founded by members of a
single group, to the exclusion of others. Creating a group identity became an impor-
Downloaded by [University of Notre Dame], [Ms Karen Graubart] at 07:58 07 October 2011

tant way for some individuals to assert affinity and community, and to welcome new
arrivals. But it also became a way for individuals to differentiate themselves, based
upon perceived alliances or conflicts in African homelands or in the New World.
The most dramatic case comes from the bifurcation of Nuestra Señora del Rosario.
In Lima, Rosario had been founded by the Franciscans, until the Church placed all
Rosario confraternities under the auspices of the Dominicans in 1593. The move
was contentious and resulted in the creation of two confraternities: the new Rosario
de los Morenos, in Santo Domingo, and Nuestra Señora de los Reyes, founded in
San Francisco for those who chose not to relocate.
In the 1630s and 1640s, both cofradı́as suffered from ongoing crises over the power
of different naciones within the larger institutional structure, and they utilised Spanish
legal theory and customary law to claim their position. For instance, in 1646, Los Reyes
was described as the ‘cofradı́a of the eight moreno castas’ and suffered through a pro-
tracted lawsuit over the seating arrangements for the representatives of each casta at
the cabildo meetings, where voting for office holders took place.72 After debate, the
mayordomos decided that the primary seat would go to a Bran, and the second to a
Terranovo, because these were the castas of the two cofrades who decided to remain
in San Francisco after the exodus to Santo Domingo. After these would come a seat
for a Jolofo and then a Mandinga, and then the other four castas. Examination of
the list of veinticuatros from the founding documents of 1589 shows that these
groups were among the best represented in the population, though by no means the
only ones.73 In any case, Los Reyes never lost its character as a heterogeneous confra-
ternity, but it did begin to express the ethnic alignments of Lima’s Africans rather than
claim a Creole or non-ethnic identity.
In the Dominican Rosario, we see this process even more clearly. By the 1620s, there
were signs that the morenos were splitting into 11 subgroups, called bancos and headed
by a caporal, which collected their members’ fees, taxes for special occasions and made
distributed charity within the group. In 1642, this movement was pressed further
when, after the election of mayordomos in a poorly attended cabildo meeting, the
losing parties called for a nullification of the vote because ‘in order to have the elec-
tion, all the castas who exist in the said cofradı́a must be in attendance’. But church
authorities rejected this claim after examining the constitutional documents, which
did not mention this bylaw. The bancos were still seen as an innovation, and not a
part of institutional culture.
In 1670–1671, internal conflicts came to a head again in Rosario over seating
arrangements. Domingo Belez, the caporal of the Sape banco, complained that his
Slavery & Abolition 15

Cocolı́ counterpart was given the privileged first seat ‘because [the Cocolı́es] claimed
antigüedad’ or pre-eminence because of their historical position in the cofradı́a. The
Cocolı́es were not founders, he continued,
and if they participated in the cofradı́a that was founded [in Santo Domingo] it was
because the Sape brothers brought them in, like orphans, to it, not as founders . . .
nor did they give donations even to buy wax or other things.74

Belez produced the book of the foundation, where only one Cocolı́ was listed.75
Downloaded by [University of Notre Dame], [Ms Karen Graubart] at 07:58 07 October 2011

Two Cocolı́ cofrades, Miguel and Anton, responded that: ‘for many years, our Cocolı́
nación has been in possession of the antigüedad of the foundation, older than the Sape
nación’.76 They not only produced their own witnesses, but also the title of antigüedad
issued by the Church in a previous litigation, in 1651, which they had won; indeed,
they ‘possessed’ the antigüedad in its legal paper form. The church authorities sided
again with the Cocolı́es in 1671, rather than overturn their previous decision; in
Spanish law, possession of a title or evidence of customary status nearly always
trumped innovation.77
It appears, then, that the changing population of Lima in the seventeenth century
contributed to the formation of ethnic allegiances and alliances which had had less
power in the previous century. How this took place is made clearer if we examine
just who left Rosario in 1593 to form Los Reyes.78 As we would expect from the
demography of Afro-Peruvians in this period, the cofradı́as were mainly made up
of Senegambians and Guineans – Bran, Biafara, Jolofo and Mandinga all refer to
neighbouring groups, and these names can be interchangeable in some documents.
But the other large group was Angolans from West Central Africa, who did not
have much in common with the Guineans prior to arriving in the New World,
and these were the majority members of the new Rosario.79 Nearly all the
Guinean brothers and sisters elected to stay in San Francisco in 1593, while many
non-Guineans, and especially Angolans, moved on to Santo Domingo. The initial
split was not narrowly ethnic so much as between newly establishing and long-estab-
lished communities.
However, most cofradı́as appealed to long-time residents or to Creoles, and thus did
not generally split along linguistic or cultural lines; only a few became identified with
one or a few naciones. La Antigua was undividedly heterogeneous until a conflict
erupted, most likely in the 1620s or 1630s, which led to its division into at least two
parcialidades, including one of the Creoles from Lima and another called ‘Creoles
from Caboverde’, referring to (probably Guinean) slaves who had spent significant
time in the Cape Verde islands before being shipped to Peru.80 This case is of great
interest because the ‘Creoles from Caboverde’ and the Creoles from Lima had each
forged a new ethnicity in the land where they were raised, which was not reducible
to an African ancestry.81 La Antigua’s conflict was serious enough to require elections
of a mayordomo from each group, which led to a crisis when the winner from Cape
Verde refused to serve, leaving a limeño slave as sole mayordomo, raising the question
of whether a slave should be responsible for the funds of the largest Afro-Peruvian
cofradı́a in the city.82
16 Karen B. Graubart
At least one sodality had even more serious problems. The cofradı́a of Juan de la
Buenaventura was founded in late 1604 by a group of free morenos of Guinea-Bissauen
descent (casta Biohoes, in their words) to honour a black Franciscan friar.83 By 1607,
the cofradı́a was divided in two: its membership was split between the Biohoes born in
the New World city of Panama, known in the records as ‘Creoles of Panama’, and those
Biohoes who were born in Guinea. The Guinea-raised brothers sought to throw the
Creoles out of their organisation, noting that they had been deceived by them:
it seemed to us that the Creole nation Biohoes de Panama were virtuous and com-
Downloaded by [University of Notre Dame], [Ms Karen Graubart] at 07:58 07 October 2011

petent for our brotherhood, [but] over time they have demonstrated themselves to
be disruptive people, of poor inclinations, and a lack of respect, raised in vices and
libertinage . . . they spoke badly to [the chaplain], and nearly laid their hands on him
. . . Since the foundation of the cofradı́a they have been consumed in vices and drun-
kenness . . . and under the guise of charity they have robbed the community.84

Echoes of the earlier discourse about immorality and birth circumstance are hard to
miss here, replete with accusations of violence and drunkenness. But now it is a
group of men born in Africa using these terms to take down those of their own
nación, corrupted by association with the loose morals of Panama. This discourse
about immorality had become, by the seventeenth century, a template to place over
any conflict wherein one group might oppose another, whose similarities to them-
selves had to be overcome. In these final descriptions, we have seen that they could
also interact with the emerging tendency of many Afro-Peruvians to construct an
African ethnicity for themselves. While some of these new ethnic alignments likely
drew upon linguistic or cultural similarities that pre-dated enslavement in Africa, it
is equally certain that some of them responded to New World conditions and
experiences: Afro-Peruvian ethnicity must be understood as a construction within
the world of colonial slavery, and it drew from existing multi-ethnic discourses
about difference.

African men and women and their descendants were drawn, like many colonial sub-
jects, to Catholic cofradı́as in Lima not only for religious fellowship, but also for the
limited autonomy they could practise there. These sodalities became microcosms of
the social world, and this was most evident when they lined up to process on impor-
tant days in the ritual calendar. Cofradı́as were, as the cabildo of Lima warned back in
1549, places where people could imagine their own communities, through cultural and
social acts under the guise of Catholic worship. But rather than the dangerous places
cabildo members feared – where Africans planned insurrections, had drunken parties
or engaged in religious rites that drew upon non-Catholic practices – the documents
reveal a process whereby some Afro-Peruvians deliberated upon colonial group mem-
bership and their place in this emerging social hierarchy.
Lima’s Afro-Peruvian cofrades thus drew upon their contemporary experiences and
needs to formulate community and differentiate themselves from their ‘others’. Their
fissures emerged from the fact that some were free and others enslaved; some imagined
Slavery & Abolition 17

access to the trappings of Spanishness, while others had no such hopes; some arrived
to find cultural cohorts, while others invented their communities from new materials.
They did this, as we have seen, by adapting a language that was increasingly being
deployed against them, one that associated Africans with laziness, violence, drunken-
ness and crudeness. This language had not yet been inevitably linked with ‘blackness’, it
floated as a way of signifying honour, status and morality for individuals as well as
groups. In the first hundred years of the Spanish conquest of Peru, it received numer-
ous iterations, not only describing negros and ‘mulattos’, as discussed here, but also
Downloaded by [University of Notre Dame], [Ms Karen Graubart] at 07:58 07 October 2011

‘Indians’ and ‘mestizos’, and eventually it would be flung against Creole Peruvians
of Spanish descent by their peninsular relatives. These adjectives represented an
attack on public order, and thus were known by Afro-Peruvian complainants to
offer the best chance of a favourable hearing from the church authorities.
While the documentation offered in this essay only characterises a small segment of
Lima’s Afro-Peruvian population – and one deeply engaged with the ecclesiastical
authorities, from which it drew its discourses – it offers a step towards understanding
how enslaved and freed people of colour saw themselves within the colonial city. Most
importantly, this evidence presents Afro-Peruvians as not isolated from the rest of
Lima, but as co-inhabitants with indigenous, mestizo and European men and
women. The absence of a larger ‘African’ consciousness, or even a set of more narrowly
regional identities, made evident here not only speaks to the complexities of urban
colonial life, but also to the parallels and interconnections experienced among and
between the groups of peoples we often examine in isolation.

Funding for this project is gratefully acknowledged from the National Endowment for
the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, the John Carter Brown
Library, and the Kellogg Institute for International Studies at the University of
Notre Dame. I received exceptional feedback from Alejandro de la Fuente, Jessica
Graham, Jane Mangan, Alejandra Osorio and audiences at the John Carter Brown
Library, the Atlantic World Workshop at New York University, and the Midwest
Working Group on Colonial Latin America.

[1] Hesperióphylo [Joseph Rossi y Rubı́], ‘Idea de las congregaciones públicas de los negros
bozales’, Mercurio Peruano 48 (16 June 1791): 112–117 and 49 (19 June 1791): 120–125.
[2] For the Crown’s attempt to limit cofradı́as, see Ruben Vargas Ugarte, Concilios limenses (1551 –
1772), vol. 1 (Lima: Tip. Peruana S.A., 1951), 369.
[3] Hesperióphylo, ‘Idea’, 48: 115.
[4] Mariselle Meléndez, ‘Patria, Criollos and Black: Imagining the Nation in the Mercurio Peruano,
1791– 1795’, Colonial Latin American Review 15, no. 2 (2006): 214.
[5] Hesperióphylo, ‘Idea’, 48: 117.
[6] Ibid., 116.
[7] Linda M. Heywood and John K. Thornton, Central Africans, Atlantic Creoles, and the Foun-
dation of the Americas, 1585–1660 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), chap. 3.
18 Karen B. Graubart
[8] Recent studies continue to assume that African ‘ethnicity’ was always central in the formation
of black confraternities in Peru, including Carlos Aguirre, Breve historia de la esclavitud en el
Perú (Lima: Fondo Editorial del Congreso del Perú, 2005), 105–107; Jean-Paul Tardieu, Los
negros y la iglesia en el Perú, siglos XVI–XVII (Quito: Centro Cultural Afroecuatoriano,
1997), 514, 553.
[9] Critiques of the use of racial and ethnic categories in the colonial period have been made by
David Cahill, ‘Colour by Numbers: Racial and Ethnic Categories in the Viceroyalty of Peru,
1532– 1824’, Journal of Latin American Studies 26, no. 2 (1994): 325–346; R. Douglas Cope,
The Limits of Racial Domination: Plebeian Society in Colonial Mexico City, 1660–1720
Downloaded by [University of Notre Dame], [Ms Karen Graubart] at 07:58 07 October 2011

(Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1994); Karen B. Graubart, ‘Hybrid Thinking: Bring-
ing Postcolonial Theory to Latin American Economic History’, in Postcolonial Thought and
Economics, ed. S. Charusheela and Eiman Zein-Elabdin (New York: Routledge, 2003), 215–234.
[10] For a review of this literature and provocative arguments about its theorisation, see the forum
in James Sidbury and Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra, ‘Mapping Ethnogenesis in the Early Modern
Atlantic’, William and Mary Quarterly 3rd ser. 68, no. 2 (2011): 181–246.
[11] Beyond the now-classic study by Frederick Bowser, The African Slave in Colonial Peru 1524 –
1650 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1974), recent interventions include Herman
L. Bennett, Colonial Blackness: A History of Afro-Mexico (Bloomington: Indiana University
Press, 2009); Cope, Limits of Racial Domination; José Ramón Jouve Martı́n, Esclavos de la
ciudad letrada: esclavitud, escritura y colonialismo en Lima (1650 –1700) (Lima: Instituto de
Estudios Peruanos, 2005); Rachel Sarah O’Toole, ‘From the Rivers of Guinea to the Valleys
of Peru: Becoming a Bran Diaspora within Spanish Slavery’, Social Text 25, no. 3 92 (2007):
19 –36; James H. Sweet, Recreating Africa: Culture, Kinship, and Religion in the African-Portu-
guese World, 1441–1770 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003); Ben Vinson
III, Black Mexico: Race and Society from Colonial to Modern Times (Santa Fe: University of
New Mexico Press, 2009).
[12] Marı́a Rostworowski de Diez Canseco, Señorı́os indigenas de Lima y Canta (Lima: Instituto de
Estudios Peruanos, 1978), chap. 2.
[13] Lynn Brandon Lowry, ‘Forging an Indian Nation: Urban Indians under Spanish Colonial
Control, Lima, Peru, 1535–1765’ (PhD diss., University of California, Berkeley, 1991),
chap. 3. Encomienda was a system of grants that awarded the labour of an indigenous community,
via its cacique as an intermediary, to someone who had done service to the Spanish Crown.
[14] Pedro de Cieza de León, Crónica del Perú, tercera parte, ed. Francesca Cantú (Lima: Pontificia
Universidad Católica del Perú, 1989), 57.
[15] Bowser, African Slave, 11.
[16] See Bowser, African Slave, Appendix A. Lima also had a large temporary indigenous popu-
lation, housed at its margins, and would have had a large number of African men and
women passing through, since Lima-Callao was a distribution point in the South American
slave trade.
[17] Jouve Martı́n, Esclavos de la ciudad letrada, 41.
[18] Bowser, African Slave, 23; Ronald Escobedo Mansilla, ‘El tributo de los zambaigos, negros y
mulatos libres en el virreinato peruano’, Revista de Indias 41 (1981): 43 –54.
[19] James Lockhart notes that ‘[i]n the very early days, the prime function of Negroes was to serve
as valuable military auxiliaries’, another route to manumission. James Lockhart, Spanish Peru
1532 –1560: A Colonial Society (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1968), 171. For an
overview of slavery in the province of Lima, see Bowser, African Slave, chap. 4.
[20] Emilio Harth-Terré and Alberto Márquez Abanto, ‘Perspectiva social y económica del artesano
virreinal en Lima’, Revista del Archivo Nacional del Perú 26 (1962): 46.
[21] On the process of coartación or gradual self-purchase, see Alejandro de la Fuente, ‘Slaves and
the Creation of Legal Rights in Cuba: Coartación and Papel’, Hispanic American Historical
Review 87, no. 4 (2007): 659 –692.
Slavery & Abolition 19

[22] On Iberian Muslim political communities under Christian rule, see Mark Meyerson, The
Muslims of Valencia in the Age of Fernando and Isabel: Between Coexistence and Crusade (Ber-
keley: University of California Press, 1991); Kathryn A. Miller, Guardians of Islam: Religious
Authority and Muslim Communities of Late Medieval Spain (New York: Columbia University
Press, 2008).
[23] Archivo Municipal de Sevilla, Tumbo de los Reyes Católicos, I, 190 (8 November 1475,
Dueñas). The earlier appointment is mentioned in D. Diego Ortiz de Zúñiga, Anales eclesiás-
ticos y seculares de la muy noble y muy leal ciudad de Sevilla (Madrid: Imprenta Real por Juan
Garcı́a Infançon, 1677), 374.
Downloaded by [University of Notre Dame], [Ms Karen Graubart] at 07:58 07 October 2011

[24] There were alguaciles de negros in the early Spanish settlements, particularly in Havana and
Panama in the 1570s and 1580s, who were free men of African descent, but we know little
about their roles, other than fleeting mentions in Emilio Roig de Leuchsenring, ed., Actas capi-
tulares del ayuntamiento de La Habana, vol. 2 (Havana: Municipio de la Habana, 1937– 1946),
166 –167; Carol F. Jopling, ed., Indios y negros en Panamá en los siglos XVI y XVII (Antigua:
Investigaciones Regionales de Mesoamérica, 1994), 448. Thanks to David Wheat for these
[25] Christopher Black and Pamela Gravestock, eds., Early Modern Confraternities in Europe and the
Americas (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2006); Susan Verdi Webster, Art and Ritual in Golden-Age
Spain: Sevillian Confraternities and the Processional Sculpture of Holy Week (Princeton: Prince-
ton University Press, 1998).
[26] Isidoro Moreno, La antigua hermandad de los negros de Sevilla (Seville: Universidad de Sevilla,
1997); Didier Lahon, ‘Black African Slaves and Freedmen in Portugal during the Renaissance’,
in Black Africans in Renaissance Europe, ed. Thomas Foster Earle and K.J.P. Lowe (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 2006), 261 – 279; Vicente Dı́az Rodriguez, ‘La cofradı́a de los
morenos de los primeros años de los dominicos en Cádiz’, Communio 39, no. 2 (2006): 359–484.
[27] Missionaries brought confraternities to parts of West and Central Africa but not (with the
exception of Kongo) until the middle or late sixteenth century. A.C. de C.M. Saunders, A
Social History of Black Slaves and Freedmen in Portugal 1441 –1555 (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1982), 40; Heywood and Thornton, Central Africans, 172 –178.
[28] Saunders, Social History, 150 –151. This sodality became exclusively white in Bahia, Brazil. See
Mieko Nishida, ‘From Ethnicity to Race and Gender: Transformations of Black Lay Sodalities in
Salvador, Bahia’, Journal of Social History 32, no. 2 (1998): 329.
[29] Patricia Mulvey, ‘Black Brothers and Sisters: Membership in the Black Lay Brotherhoods of
Colonial Brazil’, Luso-Brazilian Review 17, no. 2 (1980): 254. Rosary cofradı́as were unusual
from their founding in 1475 as brotherhoods open to all social classes as well as to women.
Anne Winston, ‘Tracing the Origins of the Rosary: German Vernacular Texts’, Speculum 68,
no. 3 (1993): 634.
[30] Moreno, La antigua hermandad. The resultant cofradı́a of Nuestra Señora de los Angeles had its
reglas or constitution approved in 1554, the earliest documentation of its existence. The hos-
pital and cofradı́a might have been originally intended for the poor or enslaved rather than
the dark skinned in 1390, a time when Seville’s West African population would have been
small but its poor and vagrant populations large, given the economic consequences of the
recent plagues.
[31] The sixteenth century marked the beginning of the obsession with limpieza de sangre (‘cleanli-
ness of blood’), which transformed eventually from its original concern with identifying those
descended from heretics, Muslims and Jews to include Indians, and especially Africans after the
opening of the Americas. See Marı́a Elena Martı́nez, Genealogical Fictions: Limpieza de Sangre,
Religion, and Gender in Colonial Mexico (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2009).
[32] Joaquı́n Rodrı́guez Mateos, ‘De los esclavos y marginados: dios de blancos y piedad de negros.
La cofradı́a de los morenos de Sevilla’, in José Manuel de Bernardo Ares, ed., Andalucı́a moderna
20 Karen B. Graubart
(I): actas del II Congreso de Historia de Andalucı́a (Cordoba: Consejerı́a de Cultura de la Junta
de Andalucı́a, 1995), 578.
[33] This has been argued by many historians of colonial cofradı́as, including Aguirre, Breve historia;
Elizabeth Kiddy, Blacks of the Rosary: Memory and History in Minas Gerais, Brazil (Philadelphia:
Penn State University Press, 2005); Mulvey, ‘Black Brothers and Sisters’; Nishida, ‘From Ethni-
city’; Nicole von Germeten, Black Blood Brothers: Confraternities and Social Mobility for Afro-
Mexicans (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2006).
[34] Teresa Egoavil, Las cofradı́as en Lima, ss. XVII y XVIII (Lima: Universidad Nacional Mayor de
San Marcos, 1986), 78 –79. See also Olinda Celestino and Albert Meyers, Las cofradı́as en el
Downloaded by [University of Notre Dame], [Ms Karen Graubart] at 07:58 07 October 2011

Perú: región central (Frankfurt: Vervuert, 1991).

[35] Concejo Provincial de Lima, Libros de cabildos de Lima: libro cuarto, años 1548 –1553 (Lima:
Impresores San Marti, 1935), 55– 56.
[36] Vargas Ugarte, Concilios limenses, 360.
[37] On the continuation of indigenous practices within the cofradı́a, see Rafael Varón, ‘Cofradı́as de
indios y poder local en el Perú colonial: Huaraz, siglo XVII’, Allpanchis 17, no. 20 (1982): 127–
146. William Christian discusses analogous local practices in Spain in his Local Religion in Six-
teenth-Century Spain (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1981), 164.
[38] Cited in Egoavil, Las cofradı́as en Lima, 80.
[39] Archivo Arzobispal de Lima (hereafter, AAL), Cofradı́as 64: 2 (1585).
[40] Bowser, African Slave, 249.
[41] Testamento de José Palomino, Archivo General de la Nación (hereafter, AGN), Protocolos
Notariales (hereafter, PN) 64, Gutiérrez, ff. 190–191 (15 July 1553); Testamento de Pedro Her-
nandes, AGN, PN 62, Diego Ruiz, ff. 26– 28 (8 January 1562); Testamento de Magdalena de la
Paz, AGN, PN 68, Gutiérrez, ff. 662 –665v (1566); Testamento de Lorenza de Guinea, AGN, PN
136, Esteban Perez, f. 887 (4 August 1589); Francisco Gamarra, AGN, PN 80, Gutiérrez, ff.
1611–1613v (26 November 1597).
[42] Bowser, African Slave, 249. According to a 1585 document, there were by then 23 cofradı́as in
the city overall, of which 7 were for Indians, 6 for Spaniards and 10 for ‘negros and mulattos’.
See Celestino and Meyers, Las cofradı́as en el Perú, 119.
[43] Entrance fees varied, from a substantial amount like the 100 pesos required by the Spanish
cofradı́a of Nuestra Señora del Rosario, to the modest four reales asked by the indigenous
and African branches of that brotherhood. In addition, cofrades contributed candles, made irre-
gular donations for masses and other necessities, and often bequeathed property to the insti-
tution. See Egoavil, Las cofradı́as en Lima, 3 –4; AAL, Cofradı́as 31: 2 (1608).
[44] AAL, Cofradı́as 47: 3 (1629–1654).
[45] AAL, Cofradı́as 65: 1 (1623); Cofradı́as 31: 2 (1608), f. 17.
[46] AAL, Cofradı́as 51: 2 (1608–1609). In Lisbon, African sodalities of the Rosary sometimes
loaned funds to slaves for emancipation. See Saunders, Social History, 150– 155. Seven-
teenth-century records in Lima give no indication that funds were used this way, except in
the case of a Rosario mayordomo who was unsuccessfully charged with illicitly using burial
funds to free himself. See AAL, Cofradı́as 31: 2 (1608).
[47] Book-keeping also required literacy and numeracy, skills that few enslaved or freed persons
acquired. On the question of Afro-Peruvians (especially slaves) and writing in this period,
see Jouve Martı́n, Esclavos de la ciudad letrada.
[48] For Seville’s clashes in 1603–1604, see Moreno, La antigua hermandad, 83. Lima’s cases include
AAL, Cofradı́as 64: 1 (1574), where the black cofradı́as of La Antigua and Rosario came nearly
to blows, and AAL, Cofradı́as 47: 3 (1629–1654), involving Spanish and indigenous cofrades.
[49] AAL, Cofradı́as 72: 4 (1604). See also Alexandre Coello de la Rosa, Espacios de exclusión, espa-
cios de poder: el Cercado de Lima colonial (1568 –1606) (Lima: Instituto de Estudios Peruanos,
2006), chap. 4.
[50] AAL, Cofradı́as 64: 1 (1574).
Slavery & Abolition 21

[51] While it is difficult, with legal documents, to know when language comes from the client or
from a lawyer or scribe, in this case the term moreno only appears in documents submitted
by the two African-descent cofradı́as, while statements from church officials and Spanish wit-
nesses term them all negros. Further evidence comes from wills of the period, where free men
and women of African descent likewise referred to themselves as moreno, while the authorities
might simply use negro. For example, Esperanza de Casta Carabalı́, a freedwoman and slave
owner, called herself morena in her 1640 will, while the authorities who litigated it after her
death called her negra horra. AAL, Testamentos legajo 19, expediente 7.
[52] Its constitution at some point required that all officers be free, although this was not always
Downloaded by [University of Notre Dame], [Ms Karen Graubart] at 07:58 07 October 2011

enforced. See AAL, Cofradı́as 64: 9 (1625– 1632).

[53] AAL, Cofradı́as 31: 2 (1608). On Rosario as a confraternity for slaves, both African and indi-
genous, see the letter from the Jesuit P. António Pires to his order in Coimbra, in Serafim Leite,
ed., Monumenta Brasiliae, vol. 1 (Rome: Monumenta Historica Societatis Iesu), 325.
[54] AAL, Cofradı́as 64: 3 (1598 –1599). See also his will, AGN, PN 80, Gutiérrez, ff. 1611– 1613
[55] AAL, Cofradı́as 64: 2 (1585).
[56] AAL, Cofradı́as 64: 1 (1574); 64: 2 (1585); 64: 3 (1598–1599). It is unlikely that their member-
ship was even mostly free, and in 1630 it not only had an enslaved mayordomo but also a large
Cape Verdean subgroup, most of whom would have been slaves. AAL, Cofradı́as 64: 11 (1630).
[57] AAL, Cofradı́as 64: 2 (1585).
[58] The classic study is Anthony Pagden, The Fall of Natural Man: The American Indian and the
Origins of Comparative Ethnology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982).
[59] Cristóbal Suárez de Figueroa, Plaza universal de todas las ciencias (Madrid, 1615), 307–307v.
[60] An important contemporary source is Alonso de Sandoval, Un tratado sobre la esclavitud,
edición de Enriqueta Vila Vilar (1627; Madrid: Alianza Editorial, 1987), Book 1.
[61] Richard Konetzke, Colección de documentos para la historia de la formación social de Hispanoa-
mérica, 1493–1810, vol. 1 (Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientı́ficos, 1953),
147, 168, 320– 321, 333 –334 and others.
[62] Many biological mestizos were indeed assimilated into either indigenous or Spanish societies,
and thus were not counted as mestizos. But since most mulattos had an enslaved mother, there
was almost no likelihood that a free father would recognise them, and thus they either were
counted as negros or as mulattos. Elizabeth Kuznesof, ‘Ethnic and Gender Influences on
“Spanish” Creole Society in Colonial Spanish America’, Colonial Latin American Review 4,
no. 1 (1995): 153 –176.
[63] AAL, Cofradı́as 65: 1 (1623).
[64] Sandoval, Un tratado.
[65] Joseph Miller, The Way of Death: Merchant Capitalism and the Angolan Slave Trade 1730– 1830
(Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 1988), chap. 5. See also Heywood and Thornton,
Central Africans, 38 –39.
[66] Philip D. Morgan, ‘The Cultural Implications of the Atlantic Slave Trade: African Regional
Origin, American Destinations and New World Developments’, Slavery & Abolition 18, no. 1
(1997): 122 –145.
[67] On the ethnogenesis of African cultures, especially those involved in ongoing warfare with
resultant captivity and enslavement, see Heywood and Thornton, Central Africans, chap. 3.
[68] See Jouve Martı́n, Esclavos de la ciudad letrada, esp. chap. 5 and the tables on 45 –46. But see
also O’Toole, ‘Rivers of Guinea’, for her analysis of affinity and conflict within a group of
enslaved Bran men. Clearly, a simplistic correlation between ‘ethnic’ names and identities or
affinities is not helpful.
[69] The Spanish Crown initially promoted the importation of Hispanicised (ladino) slaves through
Spain, but in 1518 called for direct importation from African ports, citing the tendency of
ladinos to rebel. The Crown likewise ordered an end to the importation of Gelofes and other
22 Karen B. Graubart
slaves from Muslim regions in 1526, for the same reasons. Neither policy was completely suc-
cessful. See Jean-Pierre Tardieu, ‘Origins of the Slaves in the Lima Region in Peru (Sixteenth
and Seventeenth Centuries)’, in From Chains to Bonds: The Slave Trade Revisited, ed.
Doudou Diène (New York: Berghahn Books, 2001), 51 –52.
[70] Bowser, African Slave, Table 1 describes his sample of slave sales records in Lima between 1560
and 1650. For a very helpful update to Bowser, see also Tardieu, ‘Origins’: 40– 41.
[71] Heywood and Thornton, Central Africans, chap. 2, 4.
[72] AAL, Cofradı́as 51: 24 (1829).
[73] Ibid.
Downloaded by [University of Notre Dame], [Ms Karen Graubart] at 07:58 07 October 2011

[74] AAL, Cofradı́as 36: 28 (1670–1671).

[75] However, a document from 1574, prior to the split, shows a mayordomo named Sebastian
Cocolı́, perhaps part of this memory. AAL, Cofradı́as 64: 1 (1574).
[76] Ironically, the Cocolı́es are a subgroup of the Sape kingdoms in the region now known as Sierra
Leone. This could indicate a schism based either in Sierra Leone or in Lima over the course of
the century. See Tardieu, ‘Origins’, 48.
[77] The bancos here are using antigüedad or ‘seniority’ in the sense of a property title or of custom-
ary law. The legal basis would be as in Recopilación de las Leyes de Indias, (Madrid: Boix, 1841),
4, Tı́tulo 12, legajo. xv. Alejandro Osorio discusses how written works produced antigüedad as
historical memory in her Inventing Lima: Baroque Modernity in Peru’s South Sea Metropolis
(New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), 41, 154.
[78] I do this indirectly by comparing a list of the veinticuatros who founded Los Reyes in 1589
(AAL, Cofradı́as 51: 24 [1829]) with a list of those who donated to Rosario in 1607 (AAL,
Cofradı́as 31: 2 [1608]). The latter list would include veinticuatros but also those who
donated smaller amounts.
[79] Heywood and Thornton note that West Central Africans, who formed an increasingly large
share of Atlantic slaves after 1600, ‘shared quite similar linguistic, social, cultural, and political
forms, making for a much more uniform set of beliefs and practices than any of the other
regions of Atlantic Africa’ (Central Africans, 49). While we see some Senegambians and Gui-
neans also forming these groupings, it is possible that they were responding to practices
begun by Central Africans.
[80] Cape Verde acted as a ‘way station’ for the passage of slaves. A.J.R. Russell-Wood, The Portu-
guese Empire, 1415– 1808: A World on the Move (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press,
1998), 40 –41. In Un tratado, Sandoval believes that the majority of these were of Guinean
origin, but were ‘raised from infancy’ on the islands (100–101).
[81] AAL, Cofradı́as 64: 11 (1630).
[82] Slaves often served as mayordomos, leading to uncertain outcomes when they were accused of
mishandling funds. In this case, the enslaved criollo was required to find a guarantor in order to
handle the funds. AAL, Cofradı́as 64: 11 (1631).
[83] AAL, Cofradı́as 51: 1 (1607).
[84] Ibid.