Talking to Strange Men: The Bodily Masculinity of the Ethnic Other in Early Modern Spain's Global Empire


  • Florian Wieser Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München



This paper seeks to elucidate how the Early Modern Spanish Empire constructed its notion of masculine sex in connection to race as it slowly expanded across the globe. To that end, three source groups are analysed, those of the moros (Muslims), the indios (Native Americans), and the Visayan people in the Philippines. In each of these source scenarios, Spanish observers had to deal with the non-conforming masculinities of non-Spanish ethnic groups. Their non-conformity marked these peoples as Other not just because of their culture and looks, but because their bodies and the way they presented these bodies challenged Spanish conceptions of masculinity as a building block of the empire and perfect by nature. The hypothesis herein is that a primitive, pre-racist conception of race was employed consciously and subconsciously by the Spanish to rationalise these strange masculinities and mitigate the ideological danger emanating from them. In this way, a “sex-race matrix” was constructed. The paper thus explores the possibilities of Global History, confining the global to one state (though one that stretches across the globe) and addressing globalisation experience as something dangerous and problematic even to those who sought to achieve it through constant expansion. It thus engages debates both within Global History, and in the fields of History of Sexuality and of the Body.

Author Biography

Florian Wieser, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München