Hispanic Baroque

Conflicting Identities 

The Conflicting Identities research group is a section of the larger project The Hispanic Baroque: Complexity in the First Atlantic Culture, a Major Collaborative Research Initiative (MCRI) funded by the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). 


Is the process of permanent, and sometimes violent, negotiation among groups, so characteristic of the Baroque, the result of the existence of many conflicting identities across the Hispanic Monarchy? Is this conflict of identities produced by the continuous redrawing of the lines that separate social and religious groups, or by the interactions among groups that try to keep their identity in spite of mixing and criollization? What role do artistic expressions play in the configuration of these identities, and in the very process of negotiation through the creation of new ways of representing different groups? The Conflicting Identities Research Group will deal with this and other questions from a literary, cultural, anthropological, and political perspective. It will pay special attention to identity processes involving indigenous communities and Afro-American groups, the role of the Catholic Church, and the changing identity models of peninsular and Creole elites throughout the Baroque and independence periods. It will also look into how the encounter between Europeans and Amerindians initiated a process of blending and hybridization which lead to the development of the multicultural and multiracial communities typical of many Latin American societies.

Time periods

In temporal terms, this line of research will focus on the period from 1600 to 1825. That is, from the birth of the most representative baroque dramatist, Pedro Calderón de la Barca, and the establishment of the new baroque drama in Spanish theaters, to the end of the wars of the independence in most Latin American countries, the end of the “long 18th Century”, and the dismantling of the political system of the Hispanic Monarchy. In this sense, work on the historical baroque will take into consideration that, in the Iberoamerican world, baroque phenomena closely coexists with phenomena that derives from the Enlightenment. This coexistence creates a unique cultural space in which new layers of culture are added to previous ones in a process that adds complexity to the cultural spectrum. The main question that we will ask is, to what degree is the baroque system able, through its special characteristics, to accommodate pre-European phenomena, European cultural transfers, and criollo experience? Is the Latin-American Baroque a means by which the different levels of historic reality are articulated through a process of negotiation and continuous adjustment?

Geographic areas

In geographic terms, the project will focus specifically on the Viceroyalty of New Spain or Mexico, since, in chronological terms, it is this region that first develops a syncretic culture which then serves as a model for other areas of the Hispanic Monarchy. It is also important to study the Andean region (particularly the former Audiencia de Charcas, virtually equivalent to Bolivia), because of the special phenomena developed in that region regarding religion (Jesuits), music (Zippoli and native music) and artistic transfers (painting and drama). The Caribbean region will be represented by our focus on the costal zones of Colombia where we will study the contributions of slave populations of African origin to the distinctive features of their tropical Baroque. Work will be done on Spain to understand transnational religious and political institutions present on both sides of the Atlantic, and also to analyze the cultural and political communication of groups and elites affected by historical events throughout the period. The focus on these areas will be contrasted with specific studies on the Portuguese and Brazilian worlds, both in the historical Baroque and with respect to its participation in the emergence of the Neobaroque in the contemporary world.