By Herman L. Bennett
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Additional info for Africans in Colonial Mexico: Absolutism, Christianity, and Afro-Creole Consciousness, 1570-1640
Mastery over Africans and their descendants, in other words, accompanied the Spanish conquest. 94 By establishing their cultural dominance, the conquerors imposed longstanding Spanish cultural norms and practices, including a recently acquired mastery over African slaves and servants, as their legacy. From this perspective, Africans and their descendants stood for more than labor; they constituted symbolic capital doubling as a cultural legacy. Like writing, walled cities, wheat, olives, and wine, Spaniards relied on the servile African population to signify their cultural identity as the civilized.
Consequently, the African and creole population of Morelos soared to new heights. 68 Juan Fernández de la Concha, for instance, rapidly accumulated slave labor for his growing estate. In 1616, Juan Fernandez purchased the Guajoyuca estate, which had no laborers at the time. 70 A mere ¤ve years after its construction, his estate also included a labor force of eighty enslaved persons. Although persons de¤ned as Angolans predominated among the Africanborn in seventeenth-century ethnic New Spain, the slave labor force in Morelos was not exclusively African.
The familiarity informing ladino-Spanish social interaction during the tumultuous formative years waned in the postconquest period (1528–). The rigid and feudal nature of Iberian social relations gradually replaced the ®uid social Soiled Gods and the Formation of a Slave Society 17 mores of the conquest period. The arrival of thousands of Spaniards fueled commercial competition, including the African slave trade, and exacerbated the gulf between erstwhile allies. 30 In Juan’s waning years, the ethos that equated slaves with Africans was ascendant in New Spain.
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