Bonds of Blood

Bonds of Blood : Gender, Lifecycle, and Sacrifice in Aztec Culture


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The history of the Aztecs has been haunted by the spectre of human sacrifice. As bloody priests and brutal warriors, the Aztecs have peopled the pages of history, myth and fiction, their spectacular violence dominating perceptions of their culture and casting a veil over their unique way of life. Reinvesting the Aztecs with a humanity frequently denied to them, and exploring their religious violence as a comprehensible element of life and existence, Caroline Dodds Pennock integrates a fresh interpretation of gender with an innovative study of the everyday life of the Aztecs. This was a culture of contradictions and complications, but in amongst the grand ritual we can find the personal and private, the minutiae of life which make the world of these extraordinary people instantly familiar. Despite their violent bloodshed, the Aztecs were a compassionate and expressive people who lived and worked in cooperative gendered partnership.

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  • Hardback | 242 pages
  • 140 x 216 x 20mm | 421.84g
  • Palgrave MacMillan
  • BasingstokeUnited Kingdom
  • English
  • First.
  • 1, black & white illustrations
  • 0230003303
  • 9780230003309
  • 1,639,779

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Winner of the 2008 Royal Historical Society Gladstone Prize The judges said of Dr Dodds Pennock's book: 'Few fields of study can present the historian with such a challenge as the world of the pre-conquest Aztecs ... [a] challenge that Caroline Dodds Pennock meets triumphantly. Her analysis of the rich but problematic evidence is unfailingly rigorous. Both theoretical and methodological sophistication, however, are worn lightly. What emerges is a vivid and convincing reconstruction of a society whose harsh view of life and death was tempered by the experience of warmth, and even joy, achieved through human relationships and the routines of everyday life.' 'An exceptional volume because of its humanising approach and attention to individual concerns, emotions, and perspectives. This beautifully written book is recommended for a wide readership, from undergraduate students to accomplished Mesoamerican scholars.' - Lisa Overholtzer, Bulletin of Latin American Research 'Gender specialists and students of all levels will find worthwhile [Dodds Pennock's] search for the intimate as revealed by sources that downplay the personal and affective, rendered as itis in graceful, accessible prose. - Susan Kellogg, Hispanic American Historical Review 'This study, beautifully written and organized, is a fresh approach to both the problems of understanding Aztec human sacrifice, a problem as old as the first European viewers of this society in the sixteenth century, and of characterizing Aztec gender relations, which was introduced as a field of study in the latter half of the twentieth century. With exhaustive research Caroline Dodds Pennock ties together these two strains of enquiry in a tour-de-force argument that resolves many seeming contradictions and allows the modern Westerner to enter Aztec society with less apprehension. While making sense of Aztec thought, even more valuable is her humanization of the Aztecs through the publication of the few texts that reveal intimate and individual aspects of behaviour and interpretation of well-known formulaic pronouncements as moving expressions of human emotion. This last is a difficult feat to accomplish for a culture that is usually presented as overwhelmingly communal, public, and unfeeling.' - Emily Umberger, Arizona State University, USA ' This highly accessible dissertation-turned-manuscript will be of value to a wide audience...This beautifully written book is recommended for a wide readership.' - Anglia

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About Caroline Dodds Pennock

CAROLINE DODDS PENNOCK is Lecturer in International History at the University of Sheffield, having previously held posts in Cambridge and Leicester. She is the author of both popular and scholarly articles on Aztec and Atlantic history and has also worked on several projects for the BBC.

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