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Title: A new look at the mission to the Chiquitos : identity and ownership in the mission and its legacy
Author: Ford, Kate
ISNI:       0000 0004 5358 9066
Awarding Body: University of Essex
Current Institution: University of Essex
Date of Award: 2014
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The Jesuit Mission to the Chiquitos was founded in 1691 in what is now eastern Bolivia in order to save Indians from both Spanish and Portuguese slavers, and the devil. Belief in powerful spirit beings suffused the indigenous Oriente of the 17th and 18th centuries but it also suffused the missionary mind, in which the devil presented a very real threat. From 1745 on the church built shortly after the foundation of each pueblo was replaced by a larger, adobe-built edifice. Colonial opinion in the Americas considered earth churches second-best, in need of disguise as stone ones, so architectural features and mural decoration were painted on. At the same time the Indians believed malignant supernatural intentions could be thwarted by modifying the appearance of the human body. This thesis suggests that the churches, painted to protect them from bureaucratic criticism, were perceived by the Indians as protected from supernatural harm. The expulsion of the Jesuits in 1767 led to the identity of the Chiquito becoming synonymous with the churches over the next 200 years. However, after restoration of the churches began in 1972 and six mission complexes were awarded UNESCO World Cultural Heritage status in 1990 the churches were co-opted by the ruling class of Santa Cruz into a sentimental story of benign paternalism and 'artistic' Indians. 'Mission-myth' became a new colonialism. By comparing 18th-century accounts of Jesuit methodology with 20th and 21st-century accounts of indigenous practice and belief in the Oriente, and by considering both of these fields in the light of authoritative recent interpretations of the historic coexistence of native and European agendas in the Americas, this thesis attempts to decipher a Chiquito narrative in the metaphorical text of the church walls.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available