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Title: Maiolica and the doctrine of blood purity in New Spain, Mexico
Author: Velasquez Sánchez-Hidalgo, Verónica
ISNI:       0000 0004 5371 4082
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2014
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The aim of this research is to explore the different dimensions that material culture has to approach the ideological realm. It presents the results obtained from the study of sixteenth to early-nineteenth century maiolica ware recovered from archaeological excavations in Mexico City by personell of the National Institute of Anthropology and History of Mexico (INAH). In this research, it is argued that different cultural groups inhabiting Mexico City utilized tin-glazed ceramics of an Islamic tradition as a medium to express their identities based on the doctrine of blood purity. Ever since the colonization of this territory in the early-sixteenth century, Spaniards transferred the political and social institutions that existed in the Iberian Peninsula, such as the doctrine of blood purity, as well as cultural practices like dining. The doctrine was a hierarchical system that originated in fifteenth century Spain and can be broadly defined as based on the absence of Jewish and Muslim blood. It prescribed social separatism between old-Christian Spaniards and their descendants, known as “cristianos lindos”, from new converted Christians with heretic ancestors and non-European cultural groups, namely those of African descent. Blood purity and wealth were essential to pertain to elite circles and a world of privileges in Mexico. Thus, it is argued that both elite and aspiring members of society utilized maiolica and dining to express their cultural identities, which in turn were based on the doctrine of blood purity. Therefore, a close examination of this ceramic tableware enabled to address the following, amongst other aspects: The ways in which maiolica physically embodied ideas and symbols related with blood purity; the differential patterns of consumption of maiolica by particular cultural groups; the extent to which maiolica can be used to inform on dining to express notions related with the doctrine; how physical features like potters’ marks found on the ceramics may constitute expressions of the doctrine. Whilst in all case studies the similarities in the consumption of maiolica suggest the existence of a shared cultural identity based on the doctrine of blood purity, the differences between them are interpreted as expressions of gender, religious and social identities that co-existed in colonial Mexico City.
Supervisor: Willmott, Hugh Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available