This research seeks to uncover the networks of Jewish surgeons interrogated and prosecuted by the Tribunal of the Holy Office of the Spanish Inquisition in the seventeenth century. I aim to discover how Jewish surgeons circulated their medical knowledge in the Spanish viceroyalties. Considering the reliance of the Holy Office of the Inquisition on popular policing to maintain the authority of the catholic faith, how did Jewish and crypto-Jewish medical practitioners obtain and share their knowledge? Did kinship and economic contacts that made up the ‘network’ foster this information in the same way that they fostered news of family or potential business opportunities across the Atlantic and in the viceroyalties?

 Three questions lie at the center of this research. First, how did the popular policing and social ‘otherizing’ relied upon by the Holy Office hinder or otherwise affect the creation and circulation of medical knowledge? Second, did the naçao or ‘nation’ function as a means of knowledge circulation for Jewish and crypto-Jewish medical practitioners? And lastly, How does Latin America’s position within narratives of history of science and history of medicine inform our interpretation of past medical practice? This dissertation will emphasize the lived experiences and persecution of surgeons who lived within societies of popular policing, who still managed to produce and circulate valuable medical and scientific knowledge.


Mejor Amancebada que Mal Casada: Rhetoric and Practice of Amancebamiento in Seventeenth-Century New Spain”

Following a history tensions surrounding concubinage in medieval and early modern Spain, the Church sought greater control of religious life, particularly over the sacrament of marriage, via the Holy Office of the Inquisition. The Church exercised its strengthened restrictions and prosecuted these relationships with more frequency, as did civil courts. Still, concubinage [termed ‘amancebamiento‘ within the archive] took place in many forms and with frequency throughout the viceregal period in New Spain. This calls into question whether public perceptions of sex and sexuality reflected those imposed by the Church. Using the lenses of colonialism, gossip, and narrative, this thesis will address the following concerns: Why did these relationships persist at the risk of prosecution? Who engaged in these types of relationships? How did the courts, including the Holy Office, prosecute these offenses? What social implications did amancebados face for their relationships? Did the Church seek to control viceregal sexuality or the propagation of dissident beliefs? Based on archival research conducted at the Archivo General de la Nación in Mexico City, this thesis argues that in spite of attempts to regulate sexuality throughout the viceroyalties, ecclesiastical rhetoric did not sexually suppress the viceregal populace, nor did it prevent lay interpretation of Catholic doctrine.