The University of Texas Press salutes the Latin American Studies Association for 50 years of fostering intellectual discussion, research, and teaching on Latin America, the Caribbean, and its people throughout the Americas.
We invite attendees to stop by our booth at the 2016 annual meeting for our newest titles, to pick up a subject catalog, and for an exclusive LASA offer. Stay tuned to this blog for author guest posts, including Nicholas Kawa on his new book Amazonia in the Anthropocene: People, Soils, Plants, Forests.
LASA Colonial Book Prize Announcement
The winner of this year's prize from the LASA Colonial Section awarded to the best book in
Barbara Mundy, The Death of Aztec Tenochtitlan, the Life of Mexico City. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2015.
Mundy has written a gorgeously illustrated book drawing on her training as an art historian, referencing as well architectural and urban history, and pre-Hispanic and colonial Spanish American history and narrative. Using the city as an organizing metaphor, she ‘reads’ a range of texts including maps, sculpture, architecture, indigenous language manuscripts, Spanish language chronicles and sermons…and even contemporary Mexico City subway maps.
Eschewing rupture (such as pre/post periodizations) for continuities, Mundy links pre-Hispanic Tenochtitlan and colonial Mexico City in compelling and nuanced ways. Her deft employment of theory (DeCerteau and Lefebvre, primarily) informs but never overwhelms her reading as she roots Mexica elite and commoner, preConquest and colonial agency in the performances of the city over time. Through her analysis, Mundy makes sculpture, imagery, and architecture move to dynamically represent the transformations of the city, marking the Mexica but also recalling the radical changes that have occurred. The committee found her central argument that indigenous peoples played a key role in shaping the post-conquest city in ways that scholars have overlooked to be quite persuasive.
Mundy's discussion of environmental issues (water), translation and nomenclature, and migration history will make her book significant for those outside the field of colonial studies. Common threads with her earlier work are the close attention to place-names as signifiers of rich cultural and historical meaning, recognition of collaborations between indigenous and European actors, and the wonderfully close readings of glyphs and maps, but this book represents a huge new project that draws on but in no way repeats that previous work.
By inviting her reader to "swim" through space, representation, and events, Mundy convinces us of the presence of an indigenous city into the colonial period and beyond through the intersections of water, markets, and indigenous leadership.
Chair, Mónica Díaz, Dept. of Hispanic Studies and History, University of Kentucky
Rachel O’Toole, Dept. of History, University of California, Irvine
Karen Stolley, Dept. of Spanish and Portuguese, Emory University