Title: Choreography, Flexibility and Conformity in Postclassic Nahua Rituals
Period: Pre 1500 / 1500-1800
Funded by: University of Sheffield Studentship
Start year: 2014
My project examines ritual practice within and across the geographical location we know as the Aztec empire, during the period 1430 to 1519, when a group called the Mexica held sway over this vast territory.
The existing historiography has taken the practices of the Mexica’s imperial capital, Tenochtitlan, as representative of an 'Aztec religion', at the expense of an integrated and comparative analysis of core and periphery. The potential complex diversity of pre-Hispanic Mesoamerican ritual tradition has therefore not been explored systematically or in any depth. My project therefore aims to shed light on the potential variation of ritual practice across geographical location and social groups.
I am also interested in how rituals are used to convey political messages. My project therefore examines the imperial dimension and external influences of Mexica public ritual. In what way can the Mexica have used ritual performance as a method for imperial domination? How were the official religious customs received in subject and allied cities, and in the non-elite domestic spaces of the capital? And, was the reception of rituals away from the capital even a preoccupation of the Mexica elite?
The aim is to piece together a more thorough and representative analysis of religious practice in Mesoamerica under Aztec rule. In this way, this research will challenge existing literature which is based on the assumption that the practices of Tenochtitlan were 'the Aztec religion'.
History Department Postgraduate Social Secretary
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