The Jesuit-Guaraní Confraternity in the Spanish Missions of South America (1609–1767): A Global Religious Organization for the Colonial Integration of Amerindians

Kazuhisa Takeda


This article explores the vertical aspects of the Jesuit confraternity system in the thirty community towns under Span­ish rule (1609−1767) designated as “Missions” or “Reductions” in the Río de la Plata region of South America. The principal docu­ments analyzed are the cartas anuas, the annual reports of the Jesuits. The chronological analysis is carried out with a view to tracing the process of integrating the Guaraní Indians into the Spanish colonial regime by means of the religious congregation founded in each Mission town. As a supplementary issue, we deal with the significance of the Spanish word policía (civility) used as a criterion to ascertain the level of culture attained by the Amer­indians. Normally the Jesuits considered members of indigenous confraternities to be endowed with policía, so they used confrater­nities to transplant Christian civility among the Guaraní Indians in the Spanish overseas colony.

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