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Sexuality and the Unnatural in Colonial Latin America$
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Zeb Tortorici

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780520288140

Published to California Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520288140.001.0001

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Incestuous Natures

Incestuous Natures

Consensual and Forced Relations in Mexico, 1740–1854

(p.162) 8 Incestuous Natures
Sexuality and the Unnatural in Colonial Latin America

Lee M. Penyak

University of California Press

This chapter discusses incest as a “crime against nature.” This claim was supported by the 1817 Diccionario de la lengua castellana, which defined the offense as “a carnal sin committed by relatives within prohibited degrees.” Despite placing sodomy and incest in the same category, ecclesiastical and civil officials roundly condemned the former but maintained a nuanced perspective on the latter. Generally speaking, they found incest nefarious and unnatural when committed by close relatives and when violence was involved, but they considered it understandable and natural when cousins sought to marry their social equals. The chapter demonstrates how incest cases from late colonial and early modern Mexico revealed how patriarchy and marriage buttressed order and stability.

Keywords:   incest, sodomy, civil officials, patriarchy, marriage, social equals

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