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

University of Texas Press, 2000 - 309 σελίδες

"Harris stands virtually alone in this field. This book more than anything else he has yet done makes that field not only accessible to those of us who work on strictly English and 'Continental' drama, but indeed forces us (and indeed folks in other fields as well, and not only scholars) into a continental drift of sorts, making this 'foreign' material both familiar and crucial.... Archival work, politics, literary and sociological theory, performance research, and a great deal more come together here. And Harris writes exceedingly well. This is a book that is difficult to put down, and few scholars—especially those who work on obscure or ancient material—can ever lay claim to writing such. Harris has done us all a great service."

—Garrett Epp, Professor of English, University of Alberta

"My favorite thing about this book is the way in which it synthesizes past and present, history and theatre, folklore and political commentary. It is detailed, readable, and covers an area not touched upon by most (any?) other writers. Therefore its importance cannot be overstated."

—Shirley Carnahan, Department of Comparative Literature, University of Colorado, Boulder

"Max Harris's Aztecs, Moors, and Christians is a work of extraordinary historical and geographic scope, tracing the performance of mock battles between Moors and Christians from the late medieval period to the 1990s and from Spain to the New World. What's most fascinating about Harris's study is his suggestion, based on his own experience as well as on textual study, that the continued vitality of the performances depends in large part on the resilience of the materials. The dances and mock battles can be seen to provide counter-texts in which the historical 'losers' can reassert their cultural and political identities through performances that seem the celebrate the victors."

—Michael O'Connell, Professor of English, University of California, Santa Barbara

"This is a major contribution to the rich and fascinating cultural history of colonial-era Mexico and to 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

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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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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