UCSB Latin American and Iberian Studies Program

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Book Launch: Professor Juan and Natalie Cobo’s La legislación de la arquidiócesis de Santafé en el periodo colonial [The legislation of the archdiocese of Santafé in the colonial period]

May 6, 2019 @ 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm


About the Book

The Catholic Church played a central role in shaping how early modern Spaniards arranged their own lives and attempted to transform those of the indigenous peoples of the Americas and the Philippines to suit their vision of civilization. The early years of Iberian colonialism also coincided with a period of profound transformation within the Catholic Church — catalysed by the Reformation — which sought to centralize and homogenize its own practices. Because the reforms introduced by the Church in this period, spearheaded by the Council of Trent, were orientated towards the situation in Europe, ecclesiastics in the New World, who confronted a vastly different range of issues, had great freedoms to adapt and develop the spirit of these changes to local circumstances. A key way in which they did so was through the production of ecclesiastical legislation, whether issued individually by bishops or in assemblies of clerics such as synods and provincial councils.

This book contains the first critical edition of all of the ecclesiastical legislation promulgated during the colonial period in the archdiocese of Santafé in the New Kingdom of Granada, a vast region covering much of the territory of modern-day Colombia. It brings together the constitutions of the first and second synod of Santafé, of 1556 and 1606, the influential Catechism and instructions of fray Luis Zapata de Cárdenas, composed in 1576, and the never before published constitutions of the first and only provincial council held there during the colonial period, in 1625. This legislation was essential to the development of the Church in the region, and particularly the evangelization of indigenous people, and therefore provides key insights into how colonial society was constructed and consolidated in this period. Moreover, because the authors of these texts worked not in isolation but by drawing on a multitude of legal, theological, and pastoral sources that originated in different places and moments, in a complex process of translation and adaptation, the book explores what these texts reveal about how knowledge and ideas circulated in the early modern world, and the place that the New Kingdom of Granada occupied in the networks of exchange and communication that connected it.

This edition, with an extensive introduction, critical apparatus, and a translation into Spanish of Latin texts, aims to make these important sources available to a much broader community of scholars in order to open this field to new research.

The book will be presented, in Spanish, by Juan Carlos Estenssoro, professor and director of the Center for Research on Colonial Spanish America of l’Université Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris 3, and Cecilia Méndez Gastelumendi, associate professor of History and director of the Latin American and Iberian Studies Program at UCSB. The panel will be moderated by Juan Pablo Lupi, associate professor of in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at UCSB.

About the authors:

Juan Cobo Betancourt is assistant professor of history at UCSB. He completed his BA, MPhil, and PhD in history at the University of Cambridge. His research focuses on questions of race, language, law, and religion in the New Kingdom of Granada, and seek to situate the study of this region in a broader geographic and temporal context, while taking advantage of the region’s distinctive position to explore key themes in early modern social and cultural history. His first book, Mestizos heraldos de Dios (2012), was also published by the Colombian Institute of History and Anthropology.

Natalie Cobo is an historian and translator of early modern Latin texts. She completed her BA and MPhil in Classics at the University of Cambridge, and is currently a DPhil candidate at the University of Oxford, where she focuses on questions of religion, law, and ethnology in the 16th and 17th-century Philippines. She is also translating the second volume of Juan de Solórzano y Pereira’s De Indiarum Iure, entitled De gubernatione (1629) from Latin into Spanish and English at the Max Planck Institute for European Legal History.

They are both co-founders of Fundación Histórica Neogranadina, a Colombian non-profit foundation devoted to rescuing, preserving, and sharing Latin America’s historical manuscripts and early printed books through digitization, and promoting the development of digital humanities projects in the region (https://neogranadina.org).

About the guest discussant:

Juan Carlos Estenssoro is an historian and professor of Iberian and Latin American Studies at l’Université Paris 3, Sorbonne Nouvelle, where he also directs the Center for Research on Colonial Spanish America (CRAEC) . He is one of the world leading specialists in colonial Andean society, religion, music, and art, and the author of serval award winning books and articles. His pathbreaking book Del paganismo a la santidad: La incorporación de los indios del Perú al catolicismo (1532-1750) (Lima, 2003), is considered a classic. Other books include Música y sociedad coloniales: Lima 1680-1830 (Lima, 1989), and, with other collaborators, La Música en el Perú (1985, 1989, 2007).

This event is organized by LAIS and the History Department with generous cosponsorship from the office of the Dean of Humanities and Fine Arts.

*** This event is free and open to the public and will be followed by a dinner reception.


May 6, 2019
5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
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McCune Conference Room 6th Floor HSSB