A groundbreaking study of alternative gender and sexuality in the colonial Andean world.
Early Andean historiography reveals a subaltern history of indigenous gender and sexuality that saw masculinity and femininity not as essential absolutes. Third-gender ritualists, Ipas, mediated between the masculine and feminine spheres of culture in important ceremonies and were recorded in fragments of myths and transcribed oral accounts. Ritual performance by cross-dressed men symbolically created a third space of mediation that invoked the mythic androgyne of the pre-Hispanic Andes. The missionaries and civil authorities colonizing the Andes deemed these performances transgressive and sodomitical.
In this book, Michael J. Horswell examines alternative gender and sexuality in the colonial Andean world, and uses the concept of the third gender to reconsider some fundamental paradigms of Andean culture. By deconstructing what literary tropes of sexuality reveal about Andean pre-Hispanic and colonial indigenous culture, he provides an alternative history and interpretation of the much-maligned aboriginal subjects the Spanish often referred to as "sodomites." Horswell traces the origin of the dominant tropes of masculinist sexuality from canonical medieval texts to early modern Spanish secular and moralist literature produced in the context of material persecution of effeminates and sodomites in Spain. These values traveled to the Andes and were used as powerful rhetorical weapons in the struggle to justify the conquest of the Incas.
- Introduction: Transculturating Tropes of Sexuality, Tinkuy, and Third Gender in the Andes
- 1. Barbudos, Afeminados, and Sodomitas: Performing Masculinity in Premodern Spain
- 2. Decolonizing Queer Tropes of Sexuality: Chronicles and Myths of Conquest
- 3. From Supay Huaca to Queer Mother: Revaluing the Andean Feminine and Androgyne
- 4. Church and State: Inventing Queer Penitents and Tyrannical Others
- 5. Subaltern Hybridity?: Inca Garcilaso and the Transculturation of Gender and Sexuality in the Comentarios Reales
- Epilogue: Dancing the Tinkuy, Mediating Difference
The chieftains and settlers [from Carabaya] bring a chuqui chinchay, an animal painted in all the colors. They say that it was the apo [deity] of the jaguars, under whose protection were the hermaphrodites, or Indians of two genders. [Los curacas y mitmais (de Carabaya) trae a chuqui chinchay, animal muy pintado de todos colores. Dizen que era apo de los otorongos, en cuya guarda da a los ermofraditas yndios de dos naturas.]
—Santacruz Pachacuti, Relación de antigüedades deste reyno del Perú
These ruinous people are all sodomites . . . there is not a chief among them who does not carry with him four or five gallant pages. He keeps these as concubines. [Es gente muy bellaca son todos someticos no ay principal que no trayga quatro o cinco pajes muy galanes. Estos tiene por mancebos.]
—Juan Ruiz de Arce, Relación de servicios en Indias
In the late fifteenth century there was a crisis in the succession of Inca rulers in Tawantinsuyu—a pachacuti (cataclysmic change) that became a liminal moment in the cultural reproduction of the Andean social body and in the transition of Inca imperial bodies from one generation to another. As recounted in the first epigraph above, to mediate the tension created during this time of change, the Inca summoned to Cuzco a queer figure, the chuqui chinchay, or the apo de los otorongos, a mountain deity of the jaguars who was the patron of dual-gendered indigenous peoples. While we do not know precisely why the chuqui chinchay was called to Cuzco that day, we can now appreciate that this apo was a revered figure in Andean culture, and its human huacsas, or ritual attendants—third-gendered subjects—were vital actors in Andean ceremonies. These quariwarmi (men-women) shamans mediated between the symmetrically dualistic spheres of Andean cosmology and daily life by performing rituals that at times required same-sex erotic practices. Their transvested attire served as a visible sign of a third space that negotiated between the masculine and the feminine, the present and the past, the living and the dead. Their shamanic presence invoked the androgynous creative force often represented in Andean mythology.
The third gender's body was a sign in a semiotic system that privileged representation and communication on a corporeal plane rather than on the written page. The Andeans' collective memory depended on oral transmission and interpretation aided by mnemonic devices such as quipus (multicolored knotted cords used to record historical and other data in the Andes), textiles, natural topography, rituals, monumental architecture, ceramics, and sculpture. Above all, this memory depended on the people who performed their culture's ritualized history rather than on print technology and standardized alphabets, a significant cultural difference that would have far-reaching effects when the Spanish invasion, another pachacuti, was unleashed in the Andes. The impermanence of the human body and its vestments reflected the relative fragility of Andean cultural memory. When sacred figures like the chuqui chinchay and its third-gender ritualists are inscribed as diabolical and deviant subjects in Spanish colonial writings, scholars are presented with a challenge.
The Spanish "Conquest" and colonization of the Andes was recorded for posterity in the legendary "books of the brave," narratives that created the infamous "lettered cities" (ciudades letradas) in the shadows of the "darker side" of Renaissance humanism. These familiar metaphors for Spanish literary hegemony in the Americas have in common an assumed masculinity of the writing subject, a masculinity often naturalized in the original colonial texts, later historiographies, and literary criticism. The relationship between colonial literature and the dominant masculine subject personified by the Renaissance's ideal man—one of arms and letters—finds its roots in Iberian medieval culture and literature. This subjectivity was central to shaping the colonial narratives that tried to make sense of the invasion, colonization, and indigenous resistance in the first century after Francisco Pizarro penetrated the west coast of South America. Yet, the "brave," "lettered" men of the time, some more or less touched by the nascent humanist philosophies, expressed an implicit instability of Spanish male sexuality in their writings, an instability revealed in performative discursive iterations of the ideal masculine subject once again under siege by a cultural Other, this time by the indigenous Americans rather than the Christians' Moorish rivals in Iberia.
From the beginning of the "Encounter" and Conquest of the Americas, indigenous gender and sexual difference, like that embodied in the third-gender ritual specialists, challenged Spanish concepts of masculinity and femininity. The chroniclers, missionaries, civil servants, and historians of the period reacted to these differences by inscribing them in the colonial discourse through what I consider tropes of sexuality and through distorted interpretative testimonies. Such tropes are important markers for the places of enunciation shaped by the Spanish writing subjects who employed them. I argue, however, that these tropes also left traces of pre-Columbian cultural values and subjectivities that can be recovered through careful readings and reconstructions from the fragments of colonial discourse.
This book has a double objective: to interrogate the performative nature of these tropes of sexuality found in early colonial texts; and to recover the subaltern knowledge of the colonized third-gender subjects misrepresented by the rhetorical figures. I contend that Andean cultural memory of what became subaltern knowledge was recorded through ritual performances deemed anathema to the cultural values that informed Spanish colonial discourse. The public use of the body, outside the context of the vestiges of medieval Christian religiosity, was viewed by the Spanish as a debased, effeminate activity and therefore idolatrous or sinful. The Andean body, a site of cultural memory, became subjugated to a masculinized, lettered discourse or incorporated into Spanish-sanctioned Christian religious performances, such as Corpus Christi celebrations. From the Spanish perspective, ritual cultural reproduction through the body was a dangerous indigenous resistance, and the traces of this sacred rituality were viewed as a heretical counterdiscourse that sometimes pitted the feminine and androgynous against the masculine.
In Spanish culture, the feminine and the androgyne were contemptible, whereas in Andean culture the feminine was understood as complementary and reciprocal to the male. The tensions between the feminine and the masculine were ritually negotiated in order to reenact the originary, utopian, androgynous whole represented in Andean mythology. The symmetrical balance between the masculine and the feminine was at times arbitrated through the corporal performances of third-gender ritualists, most often represented as debased, lascivious sodomites by Spanish tropes of sexuality. Transvested Andeans introduced a crisis into the Spanish patriarchal paradigm because the third gender's symbolic rupture of the gender binary served the purpose of creating harmony and complementarity between the sexes and invoked the power and privilege of the androgynous creative force.
This challenge to Spanish gender and sexual norms invited a counteroffensive in various arenas of colonial culture: historiography, civil law, ecclesiastical literature, and religious art and performance. These strands of colonial discourse conspired in the near erasure and eventual transculturation of third-gender ritual subjectivity.
The Spanish effort to eliminate the ritual attendant, represented in this study by the third-gendered ipa or orua, who interpreted and transmitted cultural knowledge, was an attempt to destroy part of the people's memory and understanding of the cosmos. In the first Spanish chronicles of the conquest of Tawantinsuyu we find references to the cultural misunderstanding and misinterpretation of enigmatic third-gender figures, commonly referred to by the Spanish as sodomites, and the call for their extermination. Juan Ruiz de Arce's comment in his version of Francisco Pizarro's first foray on the coast of South America, which serves as the second epigraph to this introduction, sets the stage for the next hundred years of acculturation of indigenous gender and sexuality. His equation of same-sex sexuality and lasciviousness reflects medieval patriarchal values and an abjection of the feminine that informed the subjectivities of the conquistadores in the Americas. His mention of "ruinous" peoples whose leaders were so corrupt as to keep male concubines begins the discourse of abjection that obfuscated the complexities of the indigenous gender culture. Julia Kristeva has defined the abject as that which "disturbs identity, system, order. What does not respect borders, positions, rules" (Powers of Horror, 11). I argue that, just as in the Iberian Peninsula the feminine was figured as a disturbance of the masculine "order" and a threat to the "borders" that the male Spanish subject patrolled in his performance of gender identity, in the Andes same-sex sexuality and the third-gender subject threatened these "rules" and put into question the patriarchal "system" constructed on the basis of dual gender categories.
It is important to locate this analysis in the transatlantic context of the early-modern period; to understand this first wave of globalization in the Americas and its effects on indigenous gender culture requires a constant crisscrossing of the oceans to comprehend what values and tropes traveled to the periphery of the Spanish empire in the Americas and, in turn, what perceptions and revaluations returned to the metropolis. I trace the roots of the abjection of the feminine to the Iberian Peninsula by reading tropes of sexuality in canonical literary texts and by pursuing how the subjugation of the feminine manifested in the persecution of same-sex sexuality. Without an appreciation of the history of the deep-rooted instability of Spanish masculinity, one cannot understand the anxiety expressed in the chronicles and histories of the Andes related to sacred and profane same-sex sexuality and ritual performances of the feminine and androgynous sphere of Andean culture. As the transculturation of the Andes unfolds, this anxiety is absorbed by the first-generation ladino and mestizo writers, further obscuring our understanding of pre-Hispanic indigenous gender and sexuality. Transculturated tropes of sexuality cross back to the peninsula in a venerable transatlantic text, one produced in Renaissance Spain by an Andean mestizo who would become one of the cultural mediators between his mother's Inca heritage and his father's Spanish ancestry. The celebrated Inca Garcilaso de la Vega brings us full circle from the originary Iberian gender anxiety of the cultural Other I analyze in El poema del mio Cid to the mestizo's unique form of self-censure and sacrifice of his "queer" Inca ancestors, as expressed in his seminal Comentarios reales.
To reconstruct the nearly shattered subjectivity of third gender in the colonial discourse of the Andes is to elicit a reflection of the subject based on the distorted image of the abject Other both in and of that discourse. How do we make the image whole when the language that reflects its fragments is the very same that broke the illusion of wholeness in the first place? How do we read for subjectivities in the profane, frozen word-images of an outsider's mirror when those same subjects were inscribed in their culture's collective memory through ritual, sacred performances in an oral tradition? To make sense of the fragmented colonial accounts of the cross-dressed "temple sodomites" encountered in colonial readings is to embark on a multidisciplinary cultural study of gender and sexuality in the pre-Hispanic and colonial Andes. To comprehend the representation of colonized subjectivities marked by processes of marginalization in hegemonic discourses requires an inquiry into the gender and sexual culture of both the invader and the invaded.
I begin by relocating third-gender subjectivities from the margins of colonial scholarship to the center and suggest that, from this new vantage point, all readers, regardless of their subject positions, might hear a questioning of the gender and sexual binaries that have historically marginalized what might be understood as a "queer" identity. This is not to situate this project only or even primarily in the recent academic trend of queer studies, but it is to bring aspects of queer theory to colonial Andean studies in order to enact a claim to space in the historical and theoretical record. It is in this spirit that I place the Andean third gender at the center of this research, as a subjectivity that once served a vital ceremonial role in third-gender culture and that put into question the colonizing gender binaries that marginalized his/her once-sacred subjectivity. It is to restore the maligned subject to his/her historically vital third space, a space that mediated between absolute binaries. Restoring him/her to this third space requires a new reading strategy for colonial Andean texts. As I explain more fully below, this approach leads me to reconceptualize transculturation as a process that produces alterity, as a dynamic "third space" in the continuous stream of cultural reproduction in which queer subjects are produced. This "queering" of the term "transculturation" is formulated from Andean philosophy and narrative practice; I wish to think from an Andean paradigm of cultural reproduction in order to reinvigorate a theoretical construct born in the Caribbean and used throughout the continent to its near exhaustion.
Transculturation: A Queer, Third Space
The concept of transculturation has undergone an intense theoretical revision in the last few years. The term speaks to a multifaceted process in which hegemonic cultures influence subjugated ones, in which subjugated cultures give up old and acquire new values and meanings, and in which completely new cultural forms are created. Fernando Ortiz is credited with coining the term transculturation in his 1940 study Cuban Counterpoint: Tobacco and Sugar. His neologism was intended to replace the popular sociological word acculturation, which for Ortiz, signified "the process of transition from one culture to another, and its manifold social repercussions" (98). Ortiz believed that the social and cultural processes that formed twentieth-century Cuban culture were much more complex, and as his thorough analysis of Cuban historical development suggests, "the real history of Cuba is the history of its intermeshed transculturations"( ibid.), which included the mixing of many races and ethnicities, from the originary Taínos to the Spanish, African, Asian, and Anglo immigrants. Defending his neologism, Ortiz explains:
I am of the opinion that the word transculturation better expresses the different phases of the process of transition from one culture to another because this does not consist merely in acquiring another culture, which is what the English word acculturation really implies, but the process also necessarily involves the loss or uprooting of a previous culture, which could be described as a deculturation. In addition it carries the idea of the consequent creation of new cultural phenomena, which could be called neoculturation. In the end, as the school of Malinowski's followers maintains, the result of every union of cultures is similar to that of the reproductive process between individuals: the offspring always has something of both parents but is always different from each of them.(Ibid., 102-103)
This process, however, is not an equal exchange of cultural values, as Ortiz's somewhat idealized description of mestizaje might lead us to believe. Due to the violent and persistent nature of colonial practices, the early and intermediate stages of transculturation can be characterized as "acculturation" and "deculturation," as Ortiz understands the terms, while in simultaneous and later stages the strategies of resistance and accommodation of the marginalized culture begin to affect the dominant, invasive culture, which leads to new cultural forms in the contact zone, or neoculturations.
Ortiz's foundational metaphor equates the cultural reproductive process with human procreation. Sylvia Spitta, in her reconsideration of the term, observes how Ortiz "tends to overlook imbalances of power"(Between Two Waters, 6). She points out that in "his appeal to the family and to relations between the sexes as a model for transculturation, women and men, mothers and fathers, although physiologically different, are assumed to be equal. Women and men, however, are never equal when it comes to power—particularly in a colonial context based on the violence of one race over another and one gender over another"(ibid.). As Walter Mignolo has observed, Ortiz's conceptualization was deeply connected to questions of nationality and did not address coloniality (Local Histories/Global Designs, 16). Ortiz's priority was to characterize the unique cultural history of his nation through a concept of miscegenation that privileged biological and reproductive metaphors.
To this critique I would add that Ortiz's heterosexist paradigm must be challenged, for a model of cultural reproduction should not implicitly exclude those subjects that do not conform to hegemonic forms of sexuality. Normative metaphors do not convey the complexity and heterogeneity of cultural reproduction. As we will see in this study, for example, same-sex practices and transgendering were ritually important in the Andean region's cultural reproduction. Furthermore, as the third-gender subjects became marginalized and resemanticized in the process of colonization, they began to signify sites of transculturation in the form of what I characterize as queer tropes of sexuality. To ignore the gender and sexual bias inherent in Ortiz's metaphor is to disseminate a theoretical term that replicates the same ideology of exclusion that critics seek to challenge in the colonial and postcolonial culture of the Americas. The task at hand is to understand how and why the representation of gender and sexuality changed, and what ideological affinities made its representation such a conflictive issue; therefore, it is necessary to analyze issues of transculturation from a perspective that holds no identity markers as essential or naturalized.
I argue that the process of transculturation produces and is produced by queer subjectivities. The word queer as I use it throughout this study purposefully evokes the most common meanings of the term, both its traditional denotation as something "odd, singular, strange, doubtful, suspicious, eccentric" and its currently more fashionable, activist, and academic meaning as that which is transgressively marginal to normative gender and sexual culture. The production of "culturally queer," that is, eccentric, singular, subjectivities is central to the process. The various subjects produced and reproduced are consistently marginal to both the hegemonic and the subjugated cultures. The subjects of transculturation often find themselves in third spaces, neither of the originary nor of the new, invading culture. Homi Bhabha has observed that colonial discourse not only represses native voices through its myriad strands of colonial authority, but also creates hybrid subjects who are of neither the native nor the dominant culture, but are in liminal positions between the two (Location of Culture, 36-39). Thus, they embody and articulate difference in contested "third spaces," particularly in colonial, postcolonial, and neocolonial "contact zones." This difference is often considered unorthodox, and the vanguard of these new third spaces is anything but "natural" sons and daughters of cultural procreation, as Ortiz's metaphor might imply. A more radical conception of the queerness of transculturated subjects opens our readings and understanding of cultural reproduction to include those social actors whose queer gender and sexuality both distinguished them in their originary culture and increasingly marginalized them in their transculturated one. To recognize the queer aspects of cultural reproduction is to affirm the Otherness subjects must assume or disavow in the metamorphoses they undergo and create.
Gloria Anzaldúa began writing about the material and psychic borderlands of this third space in her influential Borderlands/La Frontera, in which she goes back to the colonial writings of Mexico to recuperate terms from Nahuatl and the Mesoamerican cultures of her ancestors. The terms nepantla and nepantlismo, first defined by Anzaldúa as "torn between ways"(ibid., 100), is taken from an indigenous scribe's self-description during the sixteenth century. While nepantla is also theorized as the liminal geographic space of the U.S. Southwest, in between the two spaces of Mesoamerica and the United States, Anzaldúa increasingly understands the concept to be a psychic space of transformation in which new subjects are agents in the creation of their new realities. Nepantleras create new forms of language, new cultural relations, and new values that express in-between states of being, in the intersections of gender, ethnicity, class, race, sexuality, and geographic displacement. Anzaldúa first employed the term in her development of the notion of a mestiza consciousness whose place is that intense, ambiguous third space of liminality and creativity: "In attempting to work out a synthesis, the self has added a third element which is greater than the sum of its several parts. The third element is a new consciousness—a mestiza consciousness—and though it is a source of intense pain, its energy comes from continual creative motion that keeps breaking down the unitary aspect of each new paradigm" (ibid., 101-102). The third space of nepantlismo yields alternative histories that give voice to subaltern subjects' conocimiento, or knowledge. Anzaldúa defines conocimiento as "an epistemology that tries to encompass all the dimensions of life, both inner—mental, emotional, instinctive, imaginal, spiritual, bodily realms—and outer—social, political, lived experiences" (Entrevistas, 177). Her work adds to our understanding of transculturation because she unflinchingly goes to the heart, the interior workings, of the metamorphoses of cultural change and the hybrid identities that emerge from the painful processes, mediated by power, that produce conocimiento.
I will argue that, in the Andes, this process was often performed by subjects who embodied this third space at ritually significant moments and represented conocimiento crucial to transitional periods in their societies. This is the knowledge that was nearly erased by the Spanish Conquest and colonization, but that remains embedded in both the writings and the cultural practices of some Andean, mestizo, and Spanish writers and performers. My recovery of what had become subaltern knowledge and practice in the case of the third-gender ritual roles in Andean culture can be understood as a conocimiento that informs alternative, queer ways of cultural reproduction.
The power relations that inform this obscuring of subaltern knowledge determine which cultural values and activities—queer and otherwise—continue to be reproduced and which are "sacrificed." Walter Mignolo has contributed to the theorization of subaltern knowledge and the relationship between difference—what I am characterizing as queer subjects—and colonial power. He recognizes that
colonial difference is the space where coloniality of power is enacted. It is also the space where the restitution of subaltern knowledge is taking place and where border thinking is emerging. The colonial difference is the space where local histories inventing and implementing global designs meet local histories, the space in which global designs have to be adapted, adopted, rejected, integrated, or ignored. The colonial difference is, finally, the physical as well as the imaginary location where the coloniality of power is at work in the confrontation of two kinds of local histories displayed in different spaces and times across the planet. (Local Histories/ Global Designs, ix)
While Mignolo is addressing how the "coloniality of power" has permeated the myriad spaces of the global culture, both the classic center and the periphery, in the late twentieth century, his conceptualization of subaltern knowledge, border thinking, and the relationship between local and global discourses is rooted in the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century writings of colonial Mexico and the Andes. Like Anzaldúa, Mignolo is intrigued by the notion of "nepantla"; he glosses "estamos nepantla" from the Nahuatl as "to be or feel in between" (ibid., x) and understands the unique voice that emerges in the context of colonial difference as one that expresses a "border gnosis," or conocimiento. Mignolo helps us appreciate the dialogic nature of the "fractured enunciations" that emerge from the subaltern spaces of coloniality. His emphasis on the semiotics of coloniality guides us to focus on issues of representation, and not on racial, genetic miscegenation, in our analysis of colonial discourse (or semiosis, as he prefers). "Transculturation" as a critical term is useful insofar as it serves as "a principle to produce descriptions that changes the principle in which similar descriptions have been made up to the point of its introduction in cultures of scholarship's vocabulary" (ibid., 16).
This stress on "descriptions" might risk locating projects like mine in a Eurocentric logocentrism if it were not for Mignolo's concomitant insistence that our analysis be grounded in a "pluritopic hermeneutics." This understanding of colonial semiosis frames my approach to the subaltern knowledge found in the representations of the body, particularly the queer corporeal signs that signify important conocimiento, or "border gnosis," in the colonial Andes. Furthermore, my attention to the specificity of culturally performed bodies and their myriad representations in the fractured enunciations of subaltern coloniality reminds us to pay closer attention to the agency of those participating in the processes of transculturation.
In other words, the "transculturators," as Ángel Rama named the vanguards of neoculturations in Latin America, are agents in the course of cultural change. These subjects cannot be blindly celebrated, as much criticism related to hybridity and mestizaje has tended to do. Instead, a more nuanced reading of the effects of transculturation on all social actors is needed, especially as this relates to the sexually queer aspects of the culture. Some culturally queer transculturators I consider, like Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, for example, contributed to the marginalization of the newly colonized, sexually queer, despite their traditional role in cultural reproduction of their originary culture. I will focus on this phenomenon in order to further interrogate cultural hybridity and its relationship to the sexual heterogeneity of Andean culture and to the larger theme of what Rama calls the "selection" process undertaken by the transculturators.
Alberto Moreiras problematizes this selection process by reminding us that transculturation works like a "war machine, which feeds on cultural difference, whose primary function is the reduction of the possibilities of radical heterogeneity" ("José María Arguedas," 218; all translations are mine unless otherwise noted). This reductive "war machine" can be "understood as a systematic part of the Western productionist ideology or metaphysics, which still retains a strong colonizing power in relation to alternative symbolic fields in culture" (ibid., 218-219). Moreiras's insight into the colonizing erasure of all that does not enter into a certain productive model of transculturation provides a framework within which to examine how colonial discourse reduced indigenous sexual heterogeneity to forms and practices acceptable to the orthodox Catholicism and humanism of the early-modern period. This war machine may have reached its finale in the work of José María Arguedas, as Moreiras concludes, but I will argue that it began in the Andes with Inca Garcilaso's colonial hybrid, the Comentarios reales, an early constituent of the lettered city.
However powerful the social dynamic of transculturation is, we cannot lose sight of Rama's original observations, which privileged the agency of the transculturators (Transculturación narrativa, 38-39). It was through a process of "cultural plasticity" that "donors" and "receptors" of culture selected and invented cultural components from which the neoculturations would be fashioned. I will explore how the indigenous and mestizo writers contributed to the silencing of third gender as either a resistant, contestatory strategy of survival, on the one hand, and how, on the other hand, they encoded the third-gender conocimiento in order to preserve it, as in the case of culturally queer, indigenous ladino writer Santacruz Pachacuti Yamqui. To recover the cultural value of this pre-Hispanic diversity is a challenge that requires a "pluritopic hermeneutic" that underscores the traces of orality and, by extension, subaltern discourse in colonial texts. My intention is to highlight the sexual heterogeneity of pre-Hispanic and early colonial Andean culture, often lost in lettered accounts but found between the lines of the transcribed and transculturated oral accounts that are both historical sources and transculturating agents in that process. Understanding how the sexual Other is treated in the colonial texts offers us insight into the workings of colonial subjectivization and subaltern hybridity as well as a better appreciation of the performative nature of alterity represented by tropes of sexuality.
Transculturating Tropes of Sexuality
Spanish colonial discourse is marked by a series of what I will name "transculturating tropes of sexuality." If "troping is the soul of discourse," as White has asserted (Tropics of Discourse, 3), then it is crucial to understand how certain gender and sexual tropes play a part in the transformation of subjectivities to whom the figures of speech refer. It is through analysis of this "troping" that we can come to understand how Spanish and, later, mestizo and indigenous writers used the power of their imaginations and the weight of traditional tropes in the interpretation of Andean culture. Since the 1980's, the primary fields of knowledge making up colonial studies have undergone a fundamental transformation related to the epistemological shift known broadly as poststructuralism. History, anthropology, and literary criticism have converged in their increasing distrust of language as representing "reality" and making "truth claims." What before was a tacit acceptance of the transparency of language has entered into question; the polysemous nature of signs, the ideology that informs writing, and the complexity of the contexts involved underscore the inherent opacity of language. The challenge for my project and any analysis of colonial historiography is identified by Hayden White in his discussion of the problems with narrative translation of knowing into telling: "If we view narration and narrativity as the instruments with which the conflicting claims of the imaginary and the real are mediated, arbitrated, or resolved in a discourse, we begin to comprehend both the appeal of narrative and the grounds for refusing it"(Content of the Form, 4).
In the case of the chronicles, relaciones, and histories that constitute the primary sources of this study, I examine how the Spanish and mestizo writers narrativize the gender and sexuality of indigenous Andeans. I problematize how the resulting narratives infuse events and observations in the contact zone with significance intelligible to the Spanish but alien to the indigenous culture. We will come to understand that the truth claims imbedded in the texts are related to colonial authority that legitimizes their writing in the first place and respond to what White calls the latent desire to moralize the observed reality (Content of the Form, 14). Each chronicler or historian I analyze must be understood in the context of his place of enunciation; his relationship with authority and tradition must be foregrounded. The writer's subjectivity is crucial to an understanding of his narrative, since, in White's words, "the more historically self-conscious the writer of any form of historiography, the more the question of the social system and the law that sustains it, the authority of this law and its justification, and threats to the law occupy his attention"(ibid., 13).
To understand this desire to moralize, it is necessary to examine the tradition from which the chroniclers and historians emerge; therefore, my study begins with a reading of peninsular Spanish literature, which will provide a background to the primary research. Subsequently, each writer's relationship with the colonial apparatus will be closely examined to detect its influence in the representation of Andean gender culture. Much of the corpus of colonial discourse has characteristics of protoethnography insofar as the writers attempt to represent the Other in the newly encountered Andean cultures. But, as James Clifford reminds us in his critique of twentieth-century ethnographies, those representations are often more analogous to inventions of cultures than transparent representations (Clifford and Marcus, Writing Culture, 2).
Integral to the "invention" of the Andes is reproduction of tropes of sexuality in colonial discourse. Ultimately, this troping operates to stereotype the cultural Other, who, in Bhabha's terms, becomes "fixed" through the repetition of a stereotypical representation, which especially concerns us in this study because of the way the discourses of power inscribe the Other's difference on the body. Bhabha reminds us that "the construction of colonial subjects in discourse, and the exercise of colonial power through discourse, demands an articulation of forms of difference—racial and sexual" (Location of Culture, 67). While much attention has been paid to the racial stereotypes of colonial discourse, it is also important to examine the sexual differentiation of the Other and its rhetorical relationship with colonial power. In addition, the problematic relationship between this rhetorical Othering in the dominant colonial discourse and the emerging contestatory voices of mestizo and indigenous writers suggests that sexual tropes played a significant role in colonial processes of subjectivization and transculturation.
Jonathan Goldberg was one of the first to identify sodomy as a colonial discursive trope and to call for further scholarship on its employment in colonial texts:
This history needs to be retold in as unpresuming and discriminating a fashion as possible in order to uncover the density of the concept of sodomy and to understand the work it is put to do; but also to recognize that sodomy, "that utterly confused category," as Foucault memorably put it, identifies neither persons nor acts with any coherence or specificity. This is one reason why the term can be mobilized—precisely because it is incapable of precise definition; but this is also how the bankruptcy of the term, and what has been done in its name, can be uncovered. ("Sodomy in the New World," 46)
This "sodomy trope" is characterized by the various "mobilizations" of the ambiguous terms and idioms that signify "sodomy." As Goldberg recognizes in the sodomy trope and Bhabha has theorized for colonial stereotypes in general, it is the "ambiguity" of the signifying tropes that invests them with power: "For it is the force of ambivalence that gives the colonial stereotype its currency: ensures its repeatability in changing historical and discursive conjunctures; informs its strategies of individualization and marginalization; produces that effect of probabilistic truth and predictability which, for the stereotype, must always be in excess of what can be empirically proved or logically construed" (Bhabha, Location of Culture, 66).This ambivalence will be underscored in my "genealogy" of the term sodomite and its many derivatives.
Asunción Lavrin, concentrating primarily on colonial Mexico's heterosexual relations and marriage, offers a definition, derived from "moral theologians" of the times, of the so-called sins against nature, though she does not specify these sources: "Sodomy or sin contra naturam was the copulation of two persons of the same sex. It also applied, however, to any form of sex between man and woman, married or not, contravening the physical position accepted by the church as 'natural'" (Sexuality and Marriage, 51). Regina Harrison's definition of sodomy in the Andean colonial context is more precise and relevant to this project, since it is taken from a sixteenth-century Peruvian catechism ("'True' Confessions," 20). This definition also suggests that the term was employed to represent several "unnatural" acts, including "bestiality, homosexuality, or unnatural heterosexual acts"(ibid.).
I will be analyzing passages that speak to sex acts between males and third-gender subjects, or what colonial writers speculated to be same-sex activity among unspecified "sodomitas," while emphasizing how the sodomy trope transculturates performative notions of Andean gender culture. I am reading "sodomy" as a discursive marker for sites of cultural difference that elicited the wrath of moralizing Spanish colonizers and as transculturated phantasms reiterated in the discourse. The meaning of these tropes was ideologically charged to justify conquest, massacre, and colonization, as Goldberg suggests. Those subjects that did not conform to hegemonic discourses of cultural foundation, especially those that betrayed a binary gender system, were demonized through a rhetoric of Christian morality. The Andean public performance of a third-gender subjectivity disrupted the Spanish semiotics of masculinity. The transvested so-called sodomites were unintelligible subjects who mis-signified, perverting the orthodox signification of sexuality, given that the Spanish marginalized the sexual Other deemed effeminate or sodomitical.
The resemanticization of third-gender subjects into sodomites, which became tropes of colonial discourse, resulted from a process of transculturation that involved the representation of their roles in the writing of both the invading and the invaded. I will trace how these tropes found their way into both the civil legal discourse, which controlled the native populations, and the texts of ecclesiastical literature and religious performance, which were the tools of evangelization.
Implicit in this understanding of historical discourse is the privileged role writing technologies played in the colonization of the Americas. The Spanish imposed what Michel de Certeau has called a "scriptural economy" in which the Americas became the colonists' "blank page" to be filled with an ordering of the disparate linguistic fragments that formed the indigenous culture, the object of the colonial subject's writing (Practice of Everyday Life, 134). Hegemonic authority and law are inscribed on the body of the indigenous; Spanish morality "engraves itself on parchments made from the skin of its subjects"(ibid., 140), whose bodies are "defined, delimited, and articulated by what writes [them]"(ibid., 139). The native bodies discussed in this study are the sites of this scriptural violence as the colonial discourse moves toward the formation of a social body in which codes purge undesirable elements. I argue that the sodomy trope not only stereotypes the Other but also functions as a "speech act" in its active denunciation of sacred and profane aspects of indigenous sexuality, which leads to its near disappearance from culture. This speech act has the unique characteristic of being one that "dare[s] not speak its name"; that is, at times it is a silent speech act because of the medieval Christian legacy that prohibited the mere speaking of the word sodomy. My analysis of the Doctrina christiana, the first book published and printed in Peru, will demonstrate how code words and phrases were substituted in sermons, confession manuals, and catechisms to represent the moral censure of the silent speech act.
What de Certeau calls the "machinery of representation" operates in two ways: "The first seeks primarily to remove something excessive, diseased, or unaesthetic from the body, or else to add to the body what it lacks" (Practice of Everyday Life, 147, original emphasis). Spaniards saw third-gender subjects as dangerously "excessive" within a scriptural economy in which a dimorphic gender system was privileged. To remove these excesses, their bodies were inscribed as morally diseased and degenerative to the colonial social body. The second operation, according to de Certeau, is "making the body tell the code"(ibid., 148); in our case, the indigenous come to believe and practice the colonial law inscribed on their bodies. Through my study of civil codes, questionnaires, and disciplinary practices, I will explore the ways colonial discourse inscribed Spanish laws of masculinity and heterosexuality on colonized Andean bodies. This revelation requires us to reconsider Michel Foucault's assertion that sex is a product of nineteenth-century European discourse and rethink the colonial contact zone in the Americas as one of the earlier spaces in which bodies were regulated and sexuality was registered as a possible threat to proto-state apparatuses.
In the course of a century, Andean gender culture was reinscribed not only by the colonizers, but also by the mestizos and indigenous peoples who had become incorporated into the scriptural economy, an important element of Andean transculturation that is marked by indigenous resistance and adaptation. As de Certeau clarifies, "normative discourse 'operates' only if it has already become a story, a text articulated on something real and speaking in its name, i.e. a law made into a story and historicized, recounted by bodies"(ibid., 149, original emphasis). We will explore the ways in which normative discourse on gender and sexuality, beginning with the peninsular tradition, transformed, and was transformed by, indigenous Andean bodies. It is time to read the normative story in a new way, to decode how the sexually queer bodies of the Andes performed vital roles in the cultural reproduction of their society while undergoing the scriptural violence of the Spanish tropes of sexuality.