The chapter “Catarina de San Juan

The chapter “Catarina de San Juan: China Slave and Popular Saint” in the book Asian Slaves in Colonial Mexico is about a South Asian woman. Who came into Mexico City as a slave in the seventeenth century. There she became a popular saint named Catarina de San Juan1. This woman was known as the China Poblana a slave who was bought by an honorable family and where her story began. Furthermore, the chapter starts by describes how Catarina was first taken by Portuguese slavers from the west coast of India into the Philippines to be sold2. It also describes how she was able to survive because of her masters. She was a domestic servant to a couple of families. The first family she worked for was Portuguese. Her masters encourage her to go to the catholic church. When one her masters die she was left free, but she decides to get another job as a servant to survive. She witnessed the social changes that turn those Chinos into Indians. Catarina dies in 1688, after that Her confessors Alonso Ramos and Jose del Castillo Grajda wrote hagiographies of her historical history3. They provided many details of her experiences. She was recorded by these people and she had testified that Portuguese worked in the Indian Ocean; that the mechanism of the Portuguese trading system reached the Spanish Philippines 4. A lot of information was unknown to Mexico like the crisscross between oceans. This information helped Ramos clarify where Chinos came from. There were chinos who were slaves and there were chinos who were from Philippines who were not slaves but were immigrants. Catarina did not know where she came from because she was taken at a young age. They came into conclusion that she might have been from China, Mogor, or India. This points a methodological problem for the study of chino slaves. Furthermore, Manila was an important area for the Portuguese because that are had a high demand of slave labor. There were Mexico started purchasing slaves. Salve who were woman were checked to see if they were virgins. Asians and Europeans were known for wanting virgins. They even had children with these women. And it continues certain slave buyers wanted certain slave woman. Portuguese separated the slave women by color. Lower cost girls were sold for prostitution. Catarina experience confirms sexual humiliation by enslaved women 5. She herself went through these events. All in all, the hagiography was published in attempt of it becoming evidence of her miraculous life. Catarina was manumitted after five years of arriving to Puebla in 1619. To conclude the chapter is about many events Catarina went through and on how she became the legend she is in history. Also, on how historian Nicolas Leon did research and concluded that she had nothing to do with the dress


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