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Toward a Regional Definition of Idolatry: Reexamining Idolatry Trials in the "Relaciónes De Méritos" and Their Role in Defining the Concept of "Idolatria" in Colonial Yucatán, 1570-1780

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This paper explores the limitations and validity of the document genre of autobiographical and service narratives of colonial clergymen called Ralaciónes de Méritos y Seruicios and their role in defining colonial concepts of idolatry. It addresses the issues of clerical exaggeration and the use of testimony as a political weapon, two frequently raised critiques of their historical validity. Examining a large number of these Relaciónes de Méritos, placing them in the context of their author's ecclesiastical careers, and contemplating the clerics' intentions in writing them, this paper will argue for revalidating the use of this documentary genre in ethnohistorical discourse. In the course of this examination, the paper will demonstrate the value of these ReLaciónes in studying the regional evolution of colonial perceptions of idolatry as a coherent category of ecclesiastical offense.

Affiliations: 1: Southwest Missouri State university


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