Transition to Christianity in Mexico Text Discussion (Oct 1996)

Query From Mary Todd 09 Oct 1996

I have a student who wants to research the transition from local religions to Catholicism as Christianity was introduced into Mexico, and the subsequent influence that transition had on women's lives. I have referred her to Ramon Gutierrez's When Jesus Came, The Corn Mothers Went Away. Are there other titles anyone might recommend? Thanks in advance.


>From David Frye 09 Oct 1996

Gutierrez's "When Jesus Came..." is excellent, though your student should be aware that his findings cannot be applied directly to Mexico (the Pueblos of New Mexico being quite a different social/cultural setting).....Ed. Note: following was list of recommended texts which can be found on the H-Women Bibliography web

>From Sandra K. Matthews-Lamb 09 Oct 1996

Gutierrez's "When Jesus Came..." is interesting, but also has so many difficulties regarding the Pueblo Indians that in fact they could be representative of many other Indian groups. See John Kessell's review article in the Pacific Historical Quarterly (A couple years ago).

I like Gutierrez's treatment of the Spaniards, marriage and interpersonal relationships between Spaniards, but have difficulties with the evidence he utilized to support his statements about Pueblo Indians. They are purely from Spanish, NOT Pueblo perspectives, and must be understood as an outsider's view, with all of his cultural baggage--and not a true picture of Pueblo culture during the time.

>From John F. Schwaller 09 Oct 1996

I'd like to reply to a few of the observations already made. I could not recommend that students read Rodriquez' book on Guadalupe. Nor would I feel comfortable assigning Gutierrez. Each suffers from some rather well publicised difficulties, which might prove problematic for a beginning student to work through.

>From Anne Rubenstein 09 Oct 1996

A comment on teaching When Jesus Came, the Corn Mothers Went Away: If your class is small enough, and you are clever or lucky enough to position the book well (I was lucky), I think any college student can get a lot out of it while also coming to see its possible flaws. I teach at a very conservative, unselective, small school. I used Corn Mothers in a 15-student course I taught on colonial North America. On the most vulgar level, the students found the "dirty bits" riveting. More seriously, small groups of students were supposed to be presenting each of the readings to the class for discussion; part of their task was describing how the book's scholarly reviewers had analyzed it. Many of our students hate intellectual conflict and resist the idea that historians publish contradictory facts and ideas. So the presentations went very badly, devolving into "all-the-reviewersliked -this-book-can-we-sit-down-now." But the students were so mixed with the Gutierrez book that even my students had to take notice that an argument was going on. It worked really well, sparking a noisy discussion and opening into our ongoing question about how ethnicity shaped colonial times.

>From Paul Charney 11 Oct 1996

In response to your query about the transition to christianity in Mexico ,I would seriously re-consider using the Gutierrez book. Native American studies persons, scholars, writers, etc. have made scathing criticisms of the book. They have characterized the book as insulting to native americans, riddles with inaccuracies, misusing sources...the list goes on. I recommend that you not take my word for it, but that you look for these criticisms in the American Culture and Research Journal 17:3 (1993), 141-177.

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