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The Pyramid Under the Cross

As the driving force in early European expansionism, Spain was concerned not only with the political and economic subordinations of the New World native but also with the need to possess his soul. In this book, Viviana Diaz Balsera tells the story of this zealous spiritual endeavor during its first one hundred years in Central Mexico and of how it transformed the European self and the indigenous other in ways sometimes unforeseen for both. The Pyramid under the Cross looks at the epic project of Christianization as well as the limits of the Spanish spiritual colonizers' power to accomplish it. The book focuses on activities of Franciscan missionaries who, as the first religious order to arrive, occupied the most important political and social centers in the Valley of Mexico and set the strategies of evangelization that others would follow. One such activity, the Nahua theater of evangelization, is represented as an exemplary case of the inevitable cultural negotiation involved in the missionary process. The author explores not only the imposition of a Eurocentric worldview upon the Nahua but also the hybridization of this view as the spiritual colonizer attempted to encompass a new non-Western constituency and the latter interpreted Christianity according to its own cultural paradigms. The book treats a wide range of texts--the Historia eclesiastica indiana, the Confessionario Mayor, the Coloquios de los Doce, and more--by renowned Franciscan figures such as Geronimo de Mendieta, Alonso de Molina, and Bernardino de Sahagun, and by Nahua grammarians Antonio Valeriano de Azcapotzalco, Andres Leonardo de Tlatelolco, and others. Diaz Balsera engages the cultural constraints of all theactors in the episodes she relates in order to show how the exchange between them resulted in the appropriation and/or alteration of the Spanish discourses of spiritual domination-sometimes even in their break-down-and how it brought about the emergence of Nahua Christian subjects who would never fully leave behind their ancient ways of relating to the gods. The Pyramid under the Cross will be of interest to readers in the areas of Hispanic literatures, history, religion, anthropology, and Latin American and cultural studies, and to those working in the field of colonial studies.
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About the Author

Viviana Diaz Balsera is Associate Professor of Spanish at the University of Miami and the author of Calderon y las quimeras de la culpa: alegoria, seduccion y resistencia en cinco autos sacramentales.


"These readings of the Nahuatl Theater of evangelization, the confession manuals, and Mendieta's Historia offer a wealth of fresh and incisive ideas that constitute rich, new scholarship. [It] will make the reader re-think binary stereotypes of writing and performance in colonial Mexico as it reveals how the interaction of Nahua voices with Spanish writing produced radical transformations in both the colonizer and the colonized." "In this excellent book, Viviana Diaz Balsera . . . [reveals] new insights into the friars' interactions with native Nahua cultures."--International Bulletin of Missionary Research In this excellent book, Viviana Diaz Balsera . . . [reveals] new insights into the friars interactions with native Nahua cultures. International Bulletin of Missionary Research"

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