In Sins Against Nature: Sex and Archives in Colonial New Spain (Duke University Press, 2018), Zeb Tortorici analyzes a vast corpus of documents in...

In Sins Against Nature: Sex and Archives in Colonial New Spain (Duke University Press, 2018), Zeb Tortorici analyzes a vast corpus of documents in order to understand how sex acts that were considered out of the norm were understood for over three centuries of Spanish control. Men and women often engaged in ‘unnatural’ sexual acts that not only revealed the relations of power in colonial society, but also the close interaction that archivists and historians have had with their stories. Sodomy, bestiality, priests soliciting during confession, as well as masturbation induced by erotic fantasies with saints and other religious characters, all disclose the role that religious and ecclesiastical institutions, archives, and historical analysis have had in erasing subjects, misclassifying them, or openly discounting their importance. Tortorici’s analysis proves that in order to reconstruct the past it is central to understand how documents were kept and categorized.


Pamela Fuentes is Assistant Professor in the Women’s and Gender Studies Department-NYC campus.