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Podcast on New Books Network: Words and Worlds Turned Around: Indigenous Christianities in Colonial Latin America (Colorado, 2017). Edited by David Tavárez. Interviewer: Krzysztof Odyniec. Please select and paste on browser: https://newbooksnetwork.com/david-tavarez-words-and-worlds-turned-around-indigenous-christianities-in-colonial-latin-america-u-colorado-press-2017/
Sometime after the summer of 1703, a strange traveler journeyed to several Zapotec-speaking communities nestled in the rugged geography of Villa Alta—an alcaldía mayor northeast of Oaxaca City in New Spain. He wore a pectoral ornament around his neck—a gift from the Benedictine friar Ángel Maldonado, a newly appointed bishop who had arrived in Oaxaca in July 1702—and was received throughout Villa Alta with “great noise and expressions of joy.” Upon his arrival in each locality, he would gather the townspeople and proclaim an offer of amnesty from the bishop: in exchange for registering a collective confession about traditional ritual practices at the administrative seat of San Ildefonso, and turning in their ritual implements—such as alphabetic ritual texts and wooden cylindrical drums—each Zapotec community would receive a general amnesty from ecclesiastical prosecution for idolatry.
In 1704 and 1705, some 103 copies of the 260-day Zapotec ritual calendar and four collections of ritual songs were handed over to Bishop Fray Ángel Maldonado by elected Zapotec town officials of the province of Villa Alta, Oaxaca. This article analyzes the multiple religious and social meanings of these calendars by focusing on two main issues: connections between social spaces, historicity, and cosmological beliefs within these indigenous communities, and the emergence of a novel clandestine ritual genre characterized by a hybrid discourse regarding religious practices, which allowed specialists to share their cosmological knowledge with a literate indigenous public. En 1704 y 1705, unas 103 copias del calendario ritual zapoteco de 260 días y cuatro colecciones de cantos rituales fueron entregadas al obispo fray Ángel Maldonado por oficiales de república zapotecos en la alcaldía mayor de Villa Alta, Oaxaca. Este artículo analiza los múltiples significados religiosos y sociales de dichos calendarios mediante un énfasis en dos puntos principales: la relación entre espacios sociales, historicidad y creencias cosmológicas en estas comunidades indígenas, y la emergencia de un nuevo género textual clandestino caracterizado por un discurso híbrido sobre prácticas religiosas, el que permitía a los especialistas compartir sus conocimientos cosmológicos a un público indígena alfabetizado.
This volume presents the story of Hernando Cortés' conquest of Mexico, as recounted by a contemporary Spanish historian and edited by Mexico's premier Nahua historian. Francisco López de Gómara's monumental Historia de las Indias y Conquista de México was published in 1552 to instant success. Despite being banned from the Americas by Prince Philip of Spain, La conquista fell into the hands of the seventeenth-century Nahua historian Chimalpahin, who took it upon himself to make a copy of the tome. As he copied, Chimalpahin rewrote large sections of La conquista, adding information about Emperor Moctezuma and other key indigenous people who participated in those first encounters. This book is thus not only the first complete modern English translation of López de Gómara's La conquista, an invaluable source in itself of information about the conquest and native peoples; it also adds Chimalpahin's unique perspective of Nahua culture to what has traditionally been a very Hispanic portrayal of the conquest.
In this essay, I analyze a sample drawn from a corpus of about 107 alphabetic texts that were produced in a clandestine manner by Zapotee ritual specialists in northern Oaxaca, Mexico, during the second half of the seventeenth century. I argue that these texts represent an unusual appropriation of the Latin alphabet and of European literacy practices by local indigenous intellectuals. This development led to the inception of a novel textual genre, the biyee, an alphabetic, pluralistic, multilayered rendering of the Zapotee 260-day divinatory calendar. I also contend that, as they moved along social networks, these calendars mapped out literate modes of transmission of cosmological knowledge that linked individual specialists with both collective spheres and individual social spaces. In the end, the circulation of these texts provided an essential core for the reproduction of a clandestine public sphere.
This chapter evaluates Chimalpahin's modification to the manuscript of Historia de las Indias y Conquista de México. It analyzes Chimalpahin's motivation for producing this manuscript and suggests that his “hybrid” La Conquista is the sole extant attempt by a colonial American indigenous author to appropriate and modify a historical narrative by a Spanish chronicler about the Americas. This chapter also argues that Chimalpahin approached Francisco López de Gómara's La Conquista as an important chronicle about the defeat of Mexico Tenochtitlan that needed to be copied, amended, and preserved.
WyssHilary E., Writing Indians: Literacy, Christianity, and Native Community in Early America. Amherst and Boston: University of Massachusetts Press, 2000 (2003). xiii + 207 pp. ISBN 1-55849-264-X (hbk.); 1-55849-412-X (pbk.). - Volume 28 Issue 3 - David Tavárez
After the conquest of Mexico, colonial authorities attempted to enforce Christian beliefs among indigenous peoples-a project they envisioned as spiritual warfare. The Invisible War assesses this immense but dislocated project by examining all known efforts in Central Mexico to obliterate native devotions of Mesoamerican origin between the 1530s and the late eighteenth century. The author's innovative interpretation of these efforts is punctuated by three events: the creation of an Inquisition tribunal in Mexico in 1571; the native rebellion of Tehuantepec in 1660; and the emergence of eerily modern strategies for isolating idolaters, teaching Spanish to natives, and obtaining medical proof of sorcery from the 1720s onwards. Rather than depicting native devotions solely from the viewpoint of their colonial codifiers, this book rescues indigenous perspectives on their own beliefs. This is achieved by an analysis of previously unknown or rare ritual texts that circulated in secrecy in Nahua and Zapotec communities through an astute appropriation of European literacy. Tavarez contends that native responses gave rise to a colonial archipelago of faith in which local cosmologies merged insights from Mesoamerican and European beliefs. In the end, idolatry eradication inspired distinct reactions: while Nahua responses focused on epistemological dissent against Christianity, Zapotec strategies privileged confrontations in defense of native cosmologies.
A sophisticated, state-of-the-art study of the remaking of Christianity by indigenous societies, Words and Worlds Turned Around reveals the manifold transformations of Christian discourses in the colonial Americas. The book surveys how Christian messages were rendered in indigenous languages; explores what was added, transformed, or glossed over; and ends with an epilogue about contemporary Nahuatl Christianities. In eleven case studies drawn from eight Amerindian languages—Nahuatl, Northern and Valley Zapotec, Quechua, Yucatec Maya, K'iche' Maya, Q'eqchi' Maya, and Tupi—the authors address Christian texts and traditions that were repeatedly changed through translation—a process of “turning around” as conveyed in Classical Nahuatl. Through an examination of how Christian terms and practices were made, remade, and negotiated by both missionaries and native authors and audiences, the volume shows the conversion of indigenous peoples as an ongoing process influenced by what native societies sought, understood, or accepted. The volume features a rapprochement of methodologies and assumptions employed in history, anthropology, and religion and combines the acuity of of methodologies drawn from philology and historical linguistics with the contextualizing force of the ethnohistory and social history of Spanish and Portuguese America. With a foreword by William B. Taylor. Contributors: Claudia Brosseder, Louise M. Burkhart, Mark Christensen, John F. Chuchiak IV, Abelardo de la Cruz, Gregory Haimovich, Kittiya Lee, Ben Leeming, Julia Madajczak, Justyna Olko, Frauke Sachse, Garry Sparks.