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The essay focuses on the role of bells in the Jesuit reducciones. Within the contested sound world of the mission areas, bells played an important role as their sounds formed a sense of space, regulated social life, and established an audibility of time and order. Amongst all the other European sounds which Catholic missionaries had introduced by the seventeenth century—church songs, prayers in European languages, and instrumental music—bells functioned especially well as signals of the omnipotent and omnipresent Christian God and as instruments in the establishing of acoustic hegemony. Taking the Conquista espiritual by Antonio Ruiz de Montoya (1639) as its main source, the essay points to several references to bells, as objects of veneration, as part of a flexible material culture, and, most importantly, as weapons in the daily fight with non-Christians, the devil, and demons.

Open Access
In: Journal of Jesuit Studies