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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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Female Homoeroticism, Heresy, and the Holy Office in Colonial Brazil

Female Homoeroticism, Heresy, and the Holy Office in Colonial Brazil

(p.77) 4 Female Homoeroticism, Heresy, and the Holy Office in Colonial Brazil
Sexuality and the Unnatural in Colonial Latin America

Ronaldo Vainfas

Zeb Tortorici

, Luiza Vainfas, Zeb Tortorici
University of California Press

This chapter outlines the ways in which sodomy was often treated like heresy in Portugal and addresses the comparative archival absence of female sodomy cases in the colonial Brazilian historical record—a fact that is linked to the very definition of “sodomy” in the Lusophone context. Inquisitors assimilated the act of sodomy to an error of faith by assuming that the accused had learned such acts from Lutherans or from Lutheran books. In addition, archival evidence showed that inquisitors throughout the early modern Lusophone era “navigated a sea of uncertainty when it came to sodomy and the female body.” The Holy Office would only consider a case as female sodomy if one of the women had used an “instrument” to penetrate another woman’s vagina.

Keywords:   heresy, Portugal, female sodomy, Lutherans, Lutheran books, Holy Office

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