Battling for Definition: Healing and Gender among Afro-Iberian Herbalists in 17th-Century Cartagena de Indias

WhenOctober 29, 2018 12:00 PM - 1:20 PM
WhereFoster Hall, Room 103
Event Website
Contact InformationCenter for Latin American Studies

Kathryn Joy McKnight
University of New Mexico

Afro-Iberian women healers in Cartagena de Indias provided essential services where disease and injury surpassed the capacity of the city’s European doctors. Their use of herbal and ritual remedies was often more effective than the latters’ purges and bloodlettings. These women were also feared, as the African-descent population surged beyond that of Europeans in a multiracial imperial port city. They became the target of imperial and inquisitorial attack, labeled as a “great conspiracy of witches” in the 1630s. This talk teases out the gendered competition for definition of self and of urban space by casta healers who told stories with words and movement through hospitals, jails, city walls, neighborhoods, churches, and homes, playing on the vulnerabilities expressed in elite representations of urban space. The talk draws especially on the Inquisition trials of herbalist Paula de Eguiluz and surgeon Diego Lopez whose stories try alternately to arouse and allay the fears of the Iberians they lived with and treated.

Kathryn Joy McKnight, is Associate Professor of Spanish and Chair of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of New Mexico. She authored The Mystic of Tunja. The Writings of Madre Castillo, 1671-1742 (1997), which won the MLA Katherine Singer Kovacs Prize. She co-edited with Leo Garofalo AfroLatino Voices: Documentary Narratives from the Early Modern Iberian World, 1550- 1812 (2007). She has published in Colonial Latin American Review, Colonial Latin American Historical Review, and Revista de Estudios Hispánicos. She is currently working with Jill S. Kuhnheim on Para vivir con salud. Leyendo la salud y la literatura, a textbook that introduces Hispanic literatures through health, illness, and medicine, which is forthcoming from Routledge.

Cosponsored with the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures.

Free and open to the public.
Light lunch will be served.

CategoriesConferences/Lectures, Lectures
Persons with disabilities who need an accommodation in order to participate in this event should contact the event sponsor for assistance.