Resident Scholars and Artists Lecture Series: Amara Solari
Resident Scholars and Artists Lecture Series
Associate Professor of Art History and Anthropology
“Contagious Stench” of Idolatry: The Rhetoric of Disease and Sacrilegious Acts in Colonial New Spain
In the historical theater of colonial New Spain, Spanish colonists frequently cited the catastrophic population decline of the indigenous population due to epidemic disease and the enduring presence of pre-Columbian religiosity as among the colony's most distressing social problems. In this talk, I analyze both visual and textual sources to argue that early modern models for disease and its infectious nature, specifically disease's status as both a biological and social contagion, informed period understandings of idolatry. By the turn of the seventeenth century, the rhetorical tropes used to discuss and describe disease and idolatry had become nearly identical. Moreover, in the Yucatán Peninsula, the conceptual conflation of illnesses of the body and of the soul led to the deployment of strategies for combating corporeal disease as a means to alleviate the threat of idolatry's infiltration into recently Christianized Maya pueblos.
Light lunch at 11:45 a.m. Presentation starts promptly at 12:00 p.m.