1 I refer to hechicería as ‘‘witchcraft’’ following Behar (1987a, 1987b) who
translates hechicera/o variously as ‘‘witch,’’ ‘‘shaman,’’ or ‘‘sorcer/ess,’’ yet
calls the whole complex ‘‘witchcraft.’’ In the New World the definition of
witchcraft included classic European practices like devil-worship, ora-
tions, divination, causing male sexual impotence (ligatura), and also and
especially the use of herbs and powders, and forms of divination associ-
ated with Indians. The Inquisition distinguished between ‘‘explicit’’ and
‘‘implicit’’ pacts with the devil, depending primarily on whether the per-
petrator was male or female, as I discuss below.
2 agn, Inq vol. 457, exp. 16, 1655.
3 Emphasis added. Defense attorneys (who were referred to as letrados
or abogados, depending on their training) were routinely assigned to
defendants, including to slaves (for example, agn, Inq vol. 444, exp. 4,
4 As Van Young notes, such texts are where ‘‘private lives cross the public
record’’ (1999: 238).
5 The term casta also sometimes referred to colonial Mexican blacks, mu-
lattoes, and mestizos as a group.
6 On many levels my argument contrasts with that made by Cope in his
study of the impact of colonial Mexican ‘‘racial’’ ideologies on ‘‘plebe-
ians’’ (1994). For example, Cope interprets the evidence to suggest that
the caste system was ‘‘not ritually woven into the fabric of daily life’’
(1992: 162) and that the fluidity of that system indexed the failure of
colonial domination rather than its success, as I argue here. Cope also
understands class as more meaningful to plebeians than race, whereas I
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