5351 - Archaeologies of sexuality: Tracing sex in the Honduran past

The production of a new colonial order involved sexual liaisons of a variety of kinds among the peoples in place in Honduras in the early sixteenth century and the Europeans and Africans who entered the region and, after two decades of conflict, gained sufficient control over western and southern Honduras to claim the territory as a Spanish colony. When we look for evidence of sexual relations even unlikely materials can speak to the question. In this paper, we draw on two forms of evidence to illuminate sexuality in Caribbean coastal Honduras during the sixteenth through eighteenth century history of the colony. On one hand, we have archival documents, including letters, petitions, and legal cases, that attest to sexual relations. To these we add attention to the physical remains of places and the traces they provide of the practices of everyday life by men and women forming new colonial places. We consider evidence of changing masculinities; sexual accommodation in which both men and women from the European world entered existing indigenous networks of sexual practices; and an apparent increase in sexual violence against women of color in the late decades of a colonial periphery, the province originally called the río Ulúa and the partido of San Pedro that was developed in it as a consequence of colonization. The initial century of colonization was marked by relatively fluid sexual traffic, initially motivated by the incursion of all-male troops received as allies by some indigenous groups, and later continued as this colonial backwater lost Spanish vecinos while maintaining strategic importance and a mixed resident population. We argue that as racialized categories of casta became formalized in the late nineteenth century, sexual relations across boundaries of population origin became more likely to involve the exercise of power by emergent elites over those now officially categorized as subordinates. Co-author: Russell Sheptak

Keywords: masculinity, indigineity, casta

Author: Joyce, Rosemary (University of California, Berkeley, Ud States of Am / USA)


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