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Colonial Habits: Convents and the Spiritual Economy of Cuzco, Peru Paperback – March 29, 1999

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Colonial Habits: Convents and the Spiritual Economy of Cuzco, Peru + Colonial Lives: Documents on Latin American History, 1550-1850
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books; 1St Edition edition (March 29, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0822322919
  • ISBN-13: 978-0822322917
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #413,117 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“It is fascinating to revisit the history of Cuzco through the gates of the convent. Burns’ clear, succinct prose, her gift for narrative, her eye for detail, and her engagement of larger issues of power, gender, and race make this an attractive book for a wide variety of readers.”—Brooke Larson, SUNY Stony Brook

Burns’s important and highly readable work takes a fresh look at the key economic, social, and cultural relationships that created and sustained a densely woven urban-centered colonial society in the Andes. Among its new findings: at the heart of the economy of colonial Cuzco, a credit institution run by women favored the conquered indigenous elite with long-term finance at concessionary interest rates.”—John Coatsworth, Harvard University

About the Author

Kathryn Burns is Associate Professor of History at the University of North Carolina,Chapel Hill.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 25, 2000
Format: Paperback
Katheryn Burns has written a great book. Her discussion of the spiritual economy is innovative and needs to be explored by more people. Burns uncovers a history that has been neglected by most historians but is integral to one's understanding of colonial Latin America. In short, this is must read for anyone interested in the subject.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By hmf22 on July 18, 2012
Format: Paperback
Colonial Habits analyzes the roles that convents played in Cuzco, Peru--and by extension, in Latin America in general--from the sixteenth century to the nineteenth century. Cuzco got its first convent, Santa Clara, in 1558, within a generation of Spanish conquest, and two more convents, Santa Catalina and Santa Teresa, in the seventeenth century. Burns argues that the convents, though walled off from the hustle and bustle of the city, played important roles in Cuzco's community life: first as environments in which the mestiza daughters of the conquerors could be educated, converted, and assimilated to Spanish colonial society; then as powerful landlords and lenders in mature colonial society; and always as power brokers in Cuzco's "spiritual economy," dispensing both prayers and social capital to the families that patronized them. After independence, Cuzco's convents declined in size and importance as new secular schools and charities took on some of their earlier roles.

One of the charming features of this book is that Burns discusses her research process as well as her conclusions: the types of documents she found, the nuns' interpretations of and responses to her research agenda, and the experience of returning daily to the locutario, the grille through which cloistered nuns communicated with the outside world. Burns's descriptions of the locutario, in particular, are wonderfully evocative. Highly recommended.
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