From Sister Ursula de Jesús’ Colonial “Imagined Community” to Modern Day Communities She Has Inspired


  • Valerie Benoist Grinnell College


sister Ursula de Jesús, colonial writing, vida, appropriation, imagined communities, blackness, Afro-Peruvian, subalternity, economy of salvation.


This article analyzes the hidden “imagined community” that colonial Afro-Peruvian sister Ursula de Jesús proposed in her spiritual journal as well as the modern day digital communities she has inspired in contemporary Peru.  More specifically, the study demonstrates that, more than four centuries after sister Ursula lived and dictated her vida, some digital writers have appropriated her text to foster religious imagined communities as well as digital communities where Afro-Peruvians can be proud of their heritage and reinforce their sense of equality within current Peruvian society.


Keywords: sister Ursula de Jesús; colonial writing; vida; appropriation; imagined communities; blackness; Afro-Peruvian; subalternity;; economy of salvation.

Author Biography

Valerie Benoist, Grinnell College

Valérie Benoist is associate professor at Grinnell College where she teaches for the Spanish Department as well as for the Latin American Studies Concentration. Her research focuses on the representation of racial and gender identities in colonial Latin American literature.  She has published on these topics in various journals such as Revista de Estudios Hispánicos, Estudios de Cultura Nahuatl, Letras Femeninas, Afro-Hispanic Review, and PALARA.  She is currently working on a book manuscript on the representation of blackness in the biographies of three colonial black religious women.



How to Cite

Benoist, V. (2017). From Sister Ursula de Jesús’ Colonial “Imagined Community” to Modern Day Communities She Has Inspired. A Contracorriente: Una Revista De Estudios Latinoamericanos, 14(2), 238–262. Retrieved from



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