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A New History Called Mexico: Genealogy, Justice, Crossroads City


Dr. Davíd Carrasco

Neil L. Rudenstine Professor of the Study of Latin America, Harvard University

This illustrated lecture reflects on the 500th anniversary of the encounters among Spaniards, Natives, and Africans in Mexico. It focuses on the potent mixtures, tense negotiations and painful inequalities marking the origins of the ‘Americas’ in Mexico. We meet Malinche and Cortés, Cuauhtemoc and Sahagún, Juan Garrido and Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda, Coyolxauhqui and La Virgen de Guadalupe. At the center of this new history stood Tenochtitlan/Mexico, ‘the sum of all wonders’ and one of the main passageways linking Seville to the Silk Road and the missions on the northern frontier.

Professor Davíd Carrasco, one of the foremost scholars of Mesoamerican religions, has contributed to the study of the history, religion, and symbolism of the Aztec and Teotihuacan cultures. His first book, Quetzalcoatl and the Irony of Empire (1992), won the Chancellor’s Book Prize at the University of Colorado. Other publications include City of Sacrifice: The Aztec Empire and the Role of Violence in Civilization (2000); The Oxford Encyclopedia of Mesoamerican Cultures (2001); Breaking Through Mexico’s Past (2007); and Cave, City, and Eagle’s Nest: An Interpretive Journey Through the Mapa de Cuauhtinchan No. 2 (2007). In 2003, he was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2004, he received the Orden Mexicana del Águila Azteca, the highest decoration awarded by the Mexican government to foreigners. In 2006, Carrasco received the Mircea Eliade Jubilee Medal from the government of Romania, and in 2011 he was voted a corresponding member of the Mexican Academy of History.

This Matthew Vassar lecture, generously funded by the Office of the Dean of the Faculty, is sponsored by the Latin American and Latino/a Studies Program and the Religion Department, and co-sponsored by the Departments of Anthropology, History, Hispanic Studies, and the American Studies Program.

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