Staging Christ's Passion in Eighteenth-Century Nahua Mexico
Published by: Institute for Mesoamerican Studies
Imprint: University Press of Colorado
Sales Date: 2023-06-15
Published: June 2023
334 Pages, 152.00 x 228.00 x 22.80 mm, 26
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A cast with over fifty distinct roles acted out events extending from Palm Sunday to Christ's death on the cross. One actor became a localized embodiment of Jesus through a process of investiture and mimesis that carried aspects of pre-Columbian materialized divinity into the later colonial period. The play told afar richer version of the Passion story than what later colonial Nahuas typically learned from their priests or catechists. And by assimilating Jesus to an Indigenous, or macehualli, identity, the players enacted a protest against colonial rule.
The situation in eighteenth-century New Spain presents both a unique confrontation between Indigenous communities and Enlightenment era religious reformers and a new chapter in an age-old power game between popular practice and religious orthodoxy. By focusing on how Nahuas localized the universalizing narrative of Christ's Passion, Staging Christ's Passion in Eighteenth-Century Nahua Mexico offers an unusually in-depth view of religious life under colonial rule.
Burkhart's accompanying website also makes available transcriptions and translations of the six Nahuatl-language plays, four Spanish-language plays composed in response to the suppression of the Nahuatl practice, and related documentation, providing a valuable resource for anyone interested in consulting the original material.
Comments restricted to single page
"Burkhart, a leader in the field on Nahuatl theater, adds Passion plays to her valuable corpus. Using the plays to address a variety of important, interdisciplinary themes like gender, evangelization, colonial life, and agency, she masterfully expands this work's relevancy far beyond a report on colonial plays. A true pleasure to read."
-Mark Christensen, Brigham Young University
"A rare and rich piece of scholarship-no previous study of Nahuatl theater has undertaken such an
exceptional close comparative literary and philological analysis of this set of plays."
-Lisa Sousa, Occidental College