Aztecs, Moors, and Christians
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Aztecs, Moors, and Christians : Festivals of Reconquest in Mexico and Spain

By (author) Max Harris

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In villages and towns across Spain and its former New World colonies, local performers stage mock battles between Spanish Christians and Moors or Aztecs that range from brief sword dances to massive street theatre lasting several days. The performances officially celebrate the triumph of Spanish Catholicism over its enemies. Such an explanation does not, however, account for the tradition's persistence for more than five hundred years nor for its widespread diffusion. In this perceptive book, Max Harris seeks to understand the "puzzling and enduring passion" of both Mexicans and Spaniards for festivals of moros y cristianos. He begins by tracing the performances' roots in medieval Spain and showing how they came to be superimposed on the mock battles that had been part of pre-contact Aztec calendar rituals. Then, using James Scott's distinction between "public" and "hidden transcripts," he reveals how, in the hands of folk and indigenous performers, these spectacles of conquest became prophecies of the eventual re-conquest of Mexico by the defeated Aztec peoples. Finally, he documents the early arrival of Native American performance practices in Europe and the shift of moros y cristianos from court to folk tradition in Spain. Even today, as lively descriptions of current festivals make plain, mock battles between Aztecs, Moors, and Christians remain a remarkably sophisticated vehicle for the communal expression of dissent. Max Harris is Executive Director of the Wisconsin Humanities Council at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and author of The Dialogical Theatre: Dramatizations of the Conquest of Mexico and the Question of the Other.

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  • Paperback | 319 pages
  • 156.7 x 234.2 x 22.1mm | 577.27g
  • 01 Aug 2000
  • University of Texas Press
  • Austin, TX
  • English
  • 18 halftones, 14 line drawings
  • 0292731329
  • 9780292731325
  • 1,170,270

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Review quote

"This is a major contribution to the rich and fascinating cultural history of colonial-era Mexico and the tumultuous clash of European and Native American values, institutions, and technologies... It is beautifully written and makes compelling reading." Robert Potter, Professor of Dramatic Art, University of California, Santa Barbara

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Back cover copy

IN villages and towns across Spain and its former New World colonies, local performers stage mock battles between Spanish Christians and Moors or Aztecs that range from brief sword dances to massive street theatre lasting several days. The performances officially celebrate the triumph of Spanish Catholicism over its enemies. Such an explanation does not, however, account for the tradition's persistence for more than five hundred years nor for its widespread diffusion.In this perceptive book, Max Harris seeks to understand the "puzzling and enduring passion" of both Mexicans and Spaniards for festivals of moros y cristianos. He begins by tracing the performances' roots in medieval Spain and showing how they came to be superimposed on the mock battles that had been part of pre-contact Aztec calendar rituals. Then, using James Scott's distinction between "public transcripts" and "hidden transcripts", he reveals how, in the hands of folk and indigenous performers, these spectacles of conquest became prophecies of the eventual reconquest of Mexico by the defeated Aztec peoples. Finally, he documents the early arrival of native American performance practices in Europe and the shift of moros y cristianos from court to folk tradition in Spain. Even today, as lively descriptions of current festivals make plain, mock battles between Aztecs, Moors, and Christians remain a remarkably sophisticated vehicle for the communal expression of dissent.

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