This article examines a 1670s Peruvian Inquisition case involving two young nuns and their Franciscan confessor in order to reveal the work of mimicry, sex, and race in colonial Latin America. By placing the events of the trial within the context of northern coastal Peru, where Africans and their descendants were at least 40 percent of the population and, increasingly, the labor backbone of the export economy in wheat and sugar, the article explores how the Inquisition found that, religiously and racially, Juana Luisa Benites committed intimate crimes against the colonial order including intermixing and passing. At the same time, the fantastical creation of a masculine black demon by Friar Francisco del Risco served racialist discourses, including justifications of slavery. By invoking the black demon, Risco participated in a colonial fetishization of the black male while, as inquisitors would pronounce, wildly deviating from orthodox interpretations of mystic encounters with the divine.
1 October 2015