Purdue Studies in Romance Literatures School of Languages and Cultures

Cruzados, mártires y beatos: emplazamientos del cuerpo colonial

Mario Cesareo

By analyzing a varied body of writing--hagiographies, histories, treatises, and correspondence--in the context of religious colonial culture and European mercantilism, Cesareo shows how Portuguese and Spanish missionaries created a Christian understanding of the colonial process.

Text in Spanish.

Mediante el estudio de documentos y la dimensión espectacular de los cuerpos en su desplazamiento histórico, Cruzados, mártires y beatos plantea una meditación estética sobre la experiencia vivida de la institucionalidad religiosa de cara a la expansión mercantilista española y portuguesa sobre América, Asia y Africa durante los siglos dieciséis y diecisiete.

Vivida como caprichoso desfile de signos, máscaras, objetos, razas, lenguas y cuerpos, la experiencia religiosa de lo colonial confronta una materialidad abrumadora que desborda los límites del entendimiento del mundo metropolitano. Para hacer inteligibles las incongruencias de esa experiencia, el misionero vuelve la corporalidad del otro en instrumento privilegiado en que se revela Dios sobre la tierra. En su más remota minucia, la materialidad se transforma en enigmático sistema de signos, adivinanza divina. Los resultados de la afiebrada imaginación religiosa en su intento por discernir, elaborar y sintetizar esta experiencia constituyen la hermenéutica cristiana que es el foco de este estudio.

El trabajo postula la existencia de un repertorio corporal que permitió al misionero dar sentido a su experiencia colonial. Construido como un programa estético a través del cual el religioso llevó a cabo la elaboración, administración y conjuro del desbordamiento empírico colonial que marcara su experiencia cotidiana, el repertorio es testimonio de una corporalidad que no rehuyó las grandes luchas en que su orden e imaginación quedaran fijados como monumento a la riqueza de sus recursos, a sus trampas y delirios, a su vergüenza y sus claudicaciones.

"...es un texto brillante, denso, que ofrece una contribucion original al discurso critico de la experiencia colonial inberica y un uso sumamente interesante de conceptos ("institucionalizacion," "espectacularidad," "otredad," etc.) cuya pertinencia supera este contexto imperial." Catherine Poupeny Hart, Revista Candiense de Estucios Hispanicos

For the complete review, see Revista Candiense de Estucios Hispanicos 22.1 (Oct 1997): 133-35.

"Perhaps his clearest and most innovative contribution is provided in Chapter Four which considers the work of Jesuit Alonso de Sandoval, who ministered to recently arrived African slaves- in Cartagena from 1577 until his death in 1652.... Cesareo succhessfully displays the perfomative strategies and aesthitic sensibilites at play in these texts.... His close, interpretative analyiss of the individual tests is both illuminating and provactive." Nancy E. van Deusen, Colonial Latin American Review

For the complete review, see Colonial Latin American Review 6.2 (Dec 1997): 254.

"Si bien la solidez teorica de la introduccion podia augurar un trabajo de mayor vuelo (e.g.: su reciente polemica con J. Beverly), la decision de Cesreo de explorar, desde una perspectiva estetica, la experiencia vivida y la materialidad de un grupo concreto, aporta una mirada a la cual se debe prestar atencion." Gustavo Berdesio, Hispanic Review

For the complete review, see Hispanic Review 65 (1997): 476-77.

"This is a brilliant first book that demonstrates how crucial the study of religious discourse is to colonial cultural studies--and in the process--how rich a potential it offers for urgently needed future scholarship. It sets a benchmark for fresh new comparative reading that Portuguese and Spanish texts of the 16th and 17th centuries urgently demand." Maureen Ahern, Latin American Literary Review

For the complete review, see Latin American Literary Review 27.53 (1999): 113-17.

"...provocative reading.... Cesareo's study works beautifully as a stimulating essay on a set of texts that help illuminate key issues in the field.... Cesareo can be commended for his contribution to theoretical considerations in the field and for opening up little studied texts to new analyses." Kathleen A. Myers, Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

For the complete review, see Bulletin of Hispanic Studies 75 (1998): 488-87.

"Cruzados, mártires y beatos is notable for the fluidity with which it moves between disparate features of the process of colonization. The book maintains a productive tension between elements that often become frozen in static oppositions, such as master-slave, body-soul, and materiiality-spirituality. Without romanticizing the encounter between missionary and non-European, Mario Cesareo has delivered a nuanced analysis of a complex dynamic, opening up a line of investigation that moves colonial studies in fresh and interesting directions." Antony Higgins, Colonial Latin American Historical Review

For the complete review, see Colonial Latin American Historical Review 1997.

"Cesareo's arguments ... are extremely engaging. The book transmits masterly the chiaroscuro effects and the vertiginous impressions of the baroque drama plotted by the missionaries about their colonial experience." Jesús Carrillo, Sixteenth Century Journal

For the complete review, see Sixteenth Century Journal 28.3 (1997): 999-1000.

"... not only provides a superb practical base to reconstruct the aesthetics of the European Conquest of America but also establishes a most important hermeneutical stance to approach the cultural implications of human rights in a proper historical continuum." Hernán Vidal, University of Minnesota

For more reviews of this book, see
Forum for Modern Language Studies
34.1 (1998): 83-84.
Hispania 80 (May 1997): 304-05. (Charles B. Moore)
Modern Language Review 92.3 (1997): 776-77. (J. S. Cummins)

Mario Cesareo, Vassar College, has published on semiotic theater, the colonial literatures of Brazil and Spanish America, novelistic production under militarized neoliberalism, popular culture, and the esthetic of the movements of black liberation in North America.

ISBN: 978-1-55753-075-2 In Spanish.
1995. PSRL 9. xii, 201 pp. Cloth $19.95 PRICE REDUCED


Information last updated June 24, 2015.

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