Department of Religious Studies

Josefrayn Sánchez-Perry

M.A., The University of Texas at Austin

PhD Candidate
Josefrayn Sánchez-Perry



Religion in the Americas; Late Post-Classic & Colonial Mesoamerica; Theories of Religious Transmission; Ritual Specialists in the Aztec World; Nahuatl & K'iche' Languages


I am a fourth year Ph.D. candidate in Religion in the Americas. My dissertation, "They Give the Sun to Drink: The Life and Labor Nahua Ritual Specialists," examines the ritual memory of ceremonial experts from the perspective of Nahua historians in the colonial period and material culture analyses from archeological reports.

In my research to date, I have found that women and men provided religious services as itinerant and fixed specialists working for domestic and temple settings. But ritual specialization did not end there. Nahua society built highly classified roles with strict boundaries and stipulations for experts working in health sciences, ritual offerings, ritual performances, and executions. In my dissertation I bring together linguistic anthropology, ritual theories, and archival materials of Nahua history and culture, including some held at the University of Texas at Austin. For instance, I make use of the Relaciones Geográficas and Primeros Libros. My dissertation proposes that during the introduction of the Christian religion, Indigenous elites and their scribes found ways to incorporate their own ritual systems into new contexts.

Because religious studies is an interdisciplinary field, I have been able to connect to other networks across the university, including LLILAS (Lozano Long Institute for Latin American Studies), the History department, Native American & Indigenous Studies, as well as the Mesoamerica Center. Since 2017, I have participated with an open-access Nahuatl language curriculum involving Nahuatl speakers from Chicontepec, Ver., faculty and staff from LLILAS, and web developers from COERLL (Center for Open Educational Resources and Language Learning).



R S F326 • Hist Of Relig In Amer Snc 1800

82004 • Summer 2020
Meets MF 10:00AM-11:30AM
CD HI (also listed as HIS F351P)

The objective of this course is for you to develop a rich understanding of religion in the United States after the 1800's. The course is set up thematically, by case studies, exposing you to four themes: movement and displacement, gender and sexuality, capitalism and community, and race and ethnicity. While these themes are not exclusive, they will help you frame key aspects that characterize how religion impacts and shapes the United States. Throughout this summer term, you will learn how to gather and interpret primary and secondary sources by writing a research paper that includes proposals, a presentation, a draft paper submission, and a final paper submission.