Rituals and Sisterhoods

Single Women’s Households in Mexico, 1560–1750

by Amos Megged

Hardcover Price $100.00
Paperback Price $35.95
Ebook Price $29.95
30-day ebook rental price $15.00

Buy Now

This book is a tour-de-force . . . a major contribution to the history of gender, sexuality, the castas, and seventeenth-century studies.”
—Linda Curcio-Nagy, University of Nevada, Reno

"[Megged] builds his study on a solid archival base, including information gleaned from the Mexican Inquisition (an extension of the Spanish Inquisition) and documents from the national archive (AGN), parish baptismal and burial records, and the records of ecclesiastical and criminal courts. . . . Summing Up: Highly recommended."


Rituals and Sisterhoods reveals the previously under-studied world of plebeian single women and single-female-headed households in colonial Mexican urban centers. Focusing on the lower echelons of society, Amos Megged considers why some commoner women remained single and established their own female-headed households, examining their unique discourses and self-representations from various angles.

Megged analyzes these women’s life stories recorded during the Spanish Inquisition, as well as wills and bequests, petitions, parish records, and private letters that describe—in their own words—how they exercised agency in male-dominated and religious spaces. Translations of select documents and accompanying analysis illustrate the conditions in which women dissolved their marriages, remained in long-lasting extramarital cohabitations, and formed female-led households and “sisterhoods” of their own. Megged provides evidence that single women in colonial Mexico played a far more active and central role in economic systems, social organizations, cults, and political activism than has been previously thought, creating spaces for themselves in which they could initiate and maintain autonomy and values distinct from those of elite society.

The institutionalization of female-headed households in mid-colonial Mexico had wide-ranging repercussions and effects on general societal values. Rituals and Sisterhoods details the particular relevance of these changes to the history of emotions, sexuality, gender concepts, perceptions of marriage, life choices, and views of honor and shame in colonial society. This book will be of significant interest to students and scholars of colonial Latin American history, the history of Early Modern Spain and Europe, and gender and women’s studies.

Amos Megged is associate professor and Helena Lewin Endowed Chair in Latin American Studies in the Department of General History at the University of Haifa. An ethnohistorian specializing in the social and cultural history of early to mid-colonial Mesoamerica, he is the author of Social Memory in Ancient and Colonial Mesoamerica and coeditor of Mesoamerican Memory and has served as member of the editorial board of Colonial Latin American Historical Review.

University Press of Colorado Logo


  • Hardcover Price: $100.00
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-60732-961-9
  • Paperback Price: $35.95
  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-60732-962-6
  • Ebook Price: $29.95
  • 30-day ebook rental price: $15.00
  • EISBN: 978-1-60732-963-3
  • Publication Month: January
  • Publication Year: 2020
  • Pages: 316
  • Illustrations: 29
  • Discount Type: Short
  • Author: by Amos Megged
  • ECommerce Code: 978-1-60732-961-9
  • Get Permissions: Get Permission

Related Titles

Browse Related Titles Tagged Under:

University Press of ColoradoUtah State University PressUniversity of Alaska PressUniversity of Wyoming Press