This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Entre jurisdicciones: cuerpos, discursos y vidas femeninas en el Virreinato de Perú




Ponce Ochoa, Rebeca

Type of Degree

Master's Thesis


Foreign Language and Literature

Restriction Status


Restriction Type


Date Available



Despite the large number of letters written by women who participated in the conquest and colonization of Spanish America, they remained relatively unanalyzed. However, these texts rescue the voices of Spanish and indigenous women revealing their attitudes and goals as they persuade specific audiences within and beyond the socio-political and cultural contexts of colonial Peru. These documents show feminine textual agency through the formation of subjectivities and the articulation of personal projects in writing. Under an imperial gaze, these texts evince struggles for women’s liberation and recover silenced voices in the colonial era. Considering women as agents of colonial history, here I examine epistolary texts that include evidence and information, as well as others of a legal nature produced in the viceroy of Peru by women of various ethnicities and social strata during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. I will begin from the idea of archive (Michael Foucault) and the concept of textual agency (Rocío Quispe-Agnoli) in terms of female negotiation and the immediate reality of colonial women. I will then examine representations of Amerindian women as agents of power in their self-representation and negotiation of their authority and status in the colony. Beginning with struggles for equality before the law, these letters disclose daily experiences of women in the early colonial era, as well as their knowledge within a discursive space in favor of their own liberation. Consequently, these texts document juridical activities that anticipated political independence in the region, as well as the opening of a new space for personal and cultural survival.