Hucksters, Orgies, Peyote, and the Devil: Frontier Religion in Colonial Michoacán


Charles A. Ryskamp Research Fellowships




This project examines the religious hybridism of Michoacán, Mexico in the first century after Spanish-Indian contact. While recent scholarship has challenged the older “spiritual conquest” model, we still know relatively little about the ways that the Spanish laity and clergy in rural and remote areas understood the process by which not only missionaries strove to Christianize the Indian population but by which Spaniards were exposed to and adopted various Indian religious and cultural practices. Moreover, while recent ethnohistorical work challenges the assumptions about how Indians received Christianity, little work has been done on the form of the Catholicism that Spaniards imported to early Mexico and adapted in a new cultural context. This project examines the sociology of religion of Spaniards in multi-ethnic frontier region with weak centralized state and Church presence.