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Sovereign Joy explores the performance of festive black kings and queens among Afro-Mexicans between 1539 and 1640. This fascinating study illustrates how the first African and Afro-creole people in colonial Mexico transformed their ancestral culture into a shared identity among Afro-Mexicans, with particular focus on how public festival participation expressed their culture and subjectivities, as well as redefined their colonial condition and social standing. By analyzing this hitherto understudied aspect of Afro-Mexican Catholic confraternities in both literary texts and visual culture, Miguel A. Valerio teases out the deeply ambivalent and contradictory meanings behind these public processions and festivities that often re-inscribed structures of race and hierarchy. Were they markers of Catholic subjecthood, and what sort of corporate structures did they create to project standing and respectability? Sovereign Joy examines many of these possibilities, and in the process highlights the central place occupied by Africans and their descendants in colonial culture. Through performance, Afro-Mexicans affirmed their being: the sovereignty of joy, and the joy of sovereignty.
Herman Bennett - author of African Kings and Black Slaves: Sovereignty and Dispossession in the Early Modern Atlantic
Nicole von Germeten - author of The Enlightened Patrolman: Early Law Enforcement in Mexico City
Mariselle Meléndez - author of Deviant and Useful Citizens: The Cultural Production of the Female Body in Eighteenth-Century Peru
Diana Taylor - author of ¡Presente! The Politics of Presence
Ben Vinson III - author of Before Mestizaje: The Frontiers of Race and Caste in Colonial Mexico
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