In the Western imagination, the Aztecs have often figured as adorers of death: ferocious savages performing human sacrifices with glee, brutes steeped in blood epitomizing the very worst of humanity. This depiction is, in some senses, the fruit of the colonizers’ assessment at the time of conquest. But it is also an image that has persisted to this day, adapted and reenacted in our literature, movies and elsewhere — despite indigenous and other sources having nuanced the tale significantly for more than a century.
With this backdrop in mind, Camilla Townsend's lecture will explore two questions. First, why has the brutal image of the Aztecs lasted so long? And, second, what does reading sources written in the Aztecs' language teach us, not only about them, but about ourselves? A fascinating complement to her 2020 Cundill History Prize-winning book 'Fifth Sun: a New History of the Aztecs', this talk is not to be missed.
Hosted by Noelani Arista, Director of Indigenous Studies at McGill University, and followed by a live audience Q&A.