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

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Description

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 festival tradition officially celebrates the triumph of Spanish Catholicism over its enemies, yet this does not explain its persistence for more than five hundred years nor its widespread diffusion. In this insightful book, Max Harris seeks to understand Mexicans' "puzzling and enduring passion" 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 a 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 reconquest of Mexico by the defeated Aztec peoples. Even today, as lively descriptions of current festivals make plain, they remain a remarkably sophisticated vehicle for the communal expression of dissent.

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Product details

  • Paperback | 319 pages
  • 156.7 x 234.2 x 22.1mm | 577.27g
  • University of Texas Press
  • Austin, TX, United States
  • English
  • 18 halftones, 14 line drawings
  • 0292731329
  • 9780292731325
  • 1,285,573

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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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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About Max Harris

Max Harris is Executive Director of the Wisconsin Humanities Council at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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Table of contents

Acknowledgments List of Illustrations Part One: Prologue Beheading the Moor (Zacatecas, 1996) Reading the Mask (Cuetzalan, 1988) Part Two: Spain, 1150-1521 A Royal Wedding (Lleida, 1150) A Medley of Battles (Zaragoza, 1286-1414) A Martyrdom with Hobby Horses (Barcelona, 1424) A Game of Canes (Jaen, 1462) Part Three: Mexico, 1321-1521 The Fields of the Wars of Flowers The Festival of the Sweeping of the Roads The Festival of the Raising of the Banners The Festival of the Flaying of Men The Dance of the Emperor Motecuzoma Part Four: Mexico, 1521-1600 The Conquest of Mexico (1524-1536) The Conquest of Rhodes (Mexico City, 1539) The Conquest of Jerusalem (Tlaxcala, 1539) The Tensions of Empire (Mexico City, 1565-1595) The Travels of Alonso Ponce (New Spain, 1584-1589) The Conquest of New Mexico (1598) Part Five: Spain, 1521-1600 Touring Aztecs (1522-1529) Royal Entries (Toledo, 1533, and Naples, 1543) Great Balls of Fire (Trent, 1549) Noble Fantasies (Binche, 1549, and Rouen, 1550) Feted Dreams of Peace (Andalusia, 1561-1571) Changing Tastes (Daroca to Valencia, 1585-1586) Gilded Indians (1521-1600) Part Six: Epilogue Dancing With Malinche (New Mexico and Oaxaca, 1993-1994) Notes Bibliography Index

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