Back to Quito

I finally finished, and submitted my manuscript for review. It is a strange feeling, really, to let go of a project that has defined much of the last decade of my life. The rewrites for transforming it from a dissertation to a book took longer than I anticipated, but in ways that I think were ultimately very productive. In particularly, the I turned the last chapter of the diss into three, and along the way completely rethought my understanding of legal change and women’s position in the judiciary during the age of liberal revolution. I ended up having to back date many of the transformations I originally thought belonged solely with the Gran Colombian period to the revolutionary 1810s. In part, this was the result of putting the Quito revolution back in the context of the peninsular revolution that the abdications and Napoleon’s invasion made possible.

In fact, I think it is a mistake to posit the Independence period in Latin America as a struggle between royalists and rebels, because the term royalists hides the extent to which liberal revolution was occurring in the name of the absent king.

What does any of this have to do with the title of this post? Well, in nice bookend fashion, I’m headed back to Quito in a few days for three weeks of sitting in the archive. With generous support from UTK’s Professional Development Award, I’ve got a brand new digital camera, and big memory card, and some time to take manuscript pics to move ahead on a second book. While I realize I will have things to change and rethink and rewrite on book #1 when the readers’ reports come back, I’ve already moved on. (I am assuming in a bit of wishful thinking that the readers’ reports will all be positive, and that book is on its way to the holy land of binding and marketing.)

So, what is the plan? I’ll be staying at Casa Foch, a hotel in the Mariscal owned by some friends, and rolling down to the ANE every day to find every sex crime and murder case I can during the period 1760-1790. The second book is an outgrowth of the first, and will be simultaneously more specific and more broad. I want to experiment with ways of theorizing AND locating popular sexual desire and practice during the reign of Charles III– right at the height of Bourbon rule. Sex, which is never just about sex, became a real fascination for the state bureaucracy, and a tool of imperial power. Serendipitously, this was also a period of florescence for the medicalization of sex, bodies, and judicial authority.

I’m also really hoping to find anything I can that mentions pregnancy, the feto, spontaneous and other forms of abortion, etc. I have a few murder prosecutions in which pregnant women died, and the relative level of development of their foetuses became objects of intense obsession and scrutiny. Beyond a whole new range of medical textbooks produced during the period, I’d really like to get access to these debates from a variety of perspectives. Brujas, surgeons, midwives, healers, etc. all had perspectives on the status of the feto, and I’m interested to see if that changed at the same time that the state was actively pursuing “aberrant” sexual practices, and gendering those practices.

I’m excited to see what I can find at the ANE, the AMQ, the Banco Central, and the other depositories around town.

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Associate Professor of Early Latin America Department of History University of Tennessee-Knoxville

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Posted in Latin American History, Research and Writing
2 comments on “Back to Quito
  1. Benito says:

    Tengo que confesar que estoy impresionado que ya estas en el segundo libro. Yo sigo pensando en el primero y pasando mas tiempo del debido en el agua. Mi esperanza es sacar, por lo menos, una propuesta de libro este verano. También viene en parte de la tesis y de un artículo que esta en revisión. Aloha.

  2. parezcoydigo says:

    Benito– I wrote my dissertation with publication in mind, tried to minimize the necessary revisions as much as possible so that transition to book could go as fast as possible. It’s out of my hands now, but I have no idea if its good or not. I mean, I think it’s great, but….

    Moving on to a second project takes my mind off of the first, something that needs to happen after years of obsession. Plus, I have to do something until those readers reports come back!

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Chad Black

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I, your humble contributor, am Chad Black. You can also find me on the web here.
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