Department of Spanish and Portuguese
Department of Spanish and Portuguese

From Defiance to Dissent: The Rise and Fall of Indigenous Publics in Colonial Mexico

A Public Lecture by Dr. David Tavárez

Thu, November 14, 2013 | BEN 2.104

4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Between 1536 and the late sixteenth century, the Franciscan Colegio de Santa Cruz at Tlatelolco was a hub for intellectual enterprises featuring a close collaboration between Nahua scholars and their teachers. This presentation surveys two virtually unknown Santa Cruz projects: the superb Nahuatl rendering of Thomas à Kempis’s Imitation of Christ before 1570, and a masterful Nahuatl translation of the Proverbs of Solomon, banned by the Mexican Inquisition in 1577 as it confronted the interdiction of the vernacular Scripture.  These works were part of an attempt to bring the devotio moderna--works associated with individual piety--to an urban Nahuatl audience, and illustrate an early moment in the defiance of Counter-Reformation policies in Spanish America.  My presentation then turns briefly to the use of alphabetic literacy for indigenous dissent in colonial Oaxaca through the clandestine circulation of Zapotec ritual texts. In both instances, we find distinct configurations of indigenous publics that confront received notions of indigenous agency in colonial societies.
David Tavárez, (University of Chicago, History/Anthropology joint PhD), an associate professor of anthropology at Vassar College, is a historian who specializes in cultural and intellectual history in colonial Spanish America. He is the author of The Invisible War: Indigenous Devotions, Discipline, and Dissent in Colonial Mexico (Stanford, 2011), a co-author of Chimalpahin's Conquest: A Nahua Historian's Rewriting of Francisco López de Gómara's La conquista de México (Stanford, 2010), and has published more than 40 articles and book chapters. Spanish-language versions of his books appeared in 2012: Las guerras invisibles: Devociones indígenas, disidencia, y disciplina en el México colonial (UABJO, Colegio de Michoacán, CIESAS, and UAM); Chimalpáhin y La Conquista de México. La crónica de Francisco López de Gómara comentada por el historiador nahua (UNAM).
Sponsored by:
Department of Spanish and Portuguese, Department of Religious Studies,
Department of History, Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies,
Native American and Indigenous Studies, and Program in Comparative Literature

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