The Devil’s Midwives: Titiçih, Gender, Religion, and Medicine in Central Mexico, 1535-1650
AuthorPolanco, Edward Anthony
AdvisorFew, Martha B.
Gosner, Kevin M.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction, presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
EmbargoRelease after 08/06/2020
AbstractThis dissertation evaluates Spanish and Nahuatl (an indigenous language spoken by the Nahuas of Mexico) sources to probe tiçiyotl (Nahua healing knowledge) in sixteenth and seventeenth-century Central Mexico. My study covers a 150-mile area surrounding Mexico City and begins in 1538, when Juan de Zumárraga, the bishop of Mexico, oversaw the first trial against titiçih (healing ritual specialists). The temporal scope of my dissertation ends in 1656, when Jacinto de la Serna (rector of the University of Mexico) wrote a manual for priests who ministered to indigenous people, which was the last source to use the term tiçitl (sing. titiçih). Other notable sources and contributions include the investigation of ecclesiastical trials against titiçih in Central Mexico. These trials include biographical information, and in-depth information on ritual practices that add humanness to the abstract descriptions included in European treatises, manuals, and encyclopedias. By unpacking the history of Nahua healing knowledge in a colonial context, this study not only explores Nahua people, it also examines how Europeans processed and interpreted indigenous knowledge, materials, and practitioners. Starting in the late sixteenth-century, the Catholic Church systematically attacked Nahua healers in Central Mexico, particularly women, while Spanish physicians absorbed indigenous knowledge and discarded ritual practices and its practitioners. This has made women invisible in academic discussions of tiçiyotl. By employing non-European sources this study includes the perspectives and views of the “colonized,” that is, the indigenous peoples of Central Mexico. Lastly, this dissertation demonstrates that women were integral to the preservation of healing practices and ritual customs among Nahua people in the seventeenth century, and that women led the resistance against Spanish colonialism, and bore the brunt of its wrath.
Degree ProgramGraduate College