Eating Landscape: Aztec and European Occupation of Tlalocan by Philip P. Arnold

By Philip P. Arnold

How do humans meaningfully occupy the land? In sixteenth-century Mexico, Aztec and Spanish understandings of land shaped the foundation in their cultural identities. Their distinct conceptions of land additionally validated the aggravating personality of cultural touch. As Philip P. Arnold keeps in consuming panorama, imperative to Aztec meanings of land have been ceremonies to Tlaloc, god of rain, fertility, and earth. those ceremonies incorporated baby sacrifices for rain and corn, priestly auto-sacrifices at lakes, mountain veneration, and ancestor worship. What unifies those ceremonies, contends Arnold, is the Aztec knowing of foodstuff. by way of feeding deities of the land, people might consume. Seeing the valley of Mexico as Tlalocan (the position of Tlaloc) and characterizing it as an "eating panorama" illustrates an Aztec mode of occupying land. whilst, Arnold demonstrates that the very texts that open a window on Tlaloc ceremonies have been created by way of Spanish missionaries. really vital was once Sahagn's Florentine Codex, which--as used to be the case with the paintings of alternative ethnographers--was meant to damage Aztec ceremonies by means of exposing them via writing. utilizing texts to bare a pre-Columbian previous, hence, is challenging. Arnold as a result indicates another studying of the texts just about the fabric atmosphere of the Valley of Mexico. through connecting ceremonies to express water classes, mountains, crops, and animals, Arnold finds a extra encompassing photo of Aztec ceremonies, revealing the space among indigenous and colonial understandings of land. Indigenous techniques of occupying land in Mexico fascinated with ceremonies which addressed the cloth stipulations of lifestyles, whereas colonial recommendations of occupying land situated round books and different written fabrics comparable to Biblical and classical texts, ethnographies, and criminal files. those particular methods of occupying Tlalocan, concludes Arnold, had dramatic effects for the formation of the Americas. Filling a spot within the assurance of Aztec cosmology, consuming panorama brings hermeneutics to archaeology and linguistic research in new ways in which could be of curiosity to historians of faith and archaeologists alike.

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1 Images of Spanish conquistadores killing children, redrawn from de Bry (1980) 235 Page xi FOREWORD Our series, Mesoamerican Worlds, is significantly enriched by Philip P. Arnold's highly innovative Eating Landscape: Aztec and European Occupation of Tlalocan. " and he shows that the Spaniards and Aztecs occupied the same land in radically different ways. Using his own version of creative hermeneutics to decipher the Aztec and Spanish imagination of matter and the material environment of the Valley of Mexico, Arnold presents us with a new way to understand Tlaloc, child sacrifices, and the rites of reciprocity that animated the Aztec urban world.

Merleau-Ponty describes this as an essential prejudice that is a necessary part of living in the world. In his method, van der Leeuw advocates epoché, or interpretive restraint, as a way of overcoming an investigator's preknowledge of existence. By bracketing one's own categories, one can effectively enter into meaningful relationships with those who have rendered the world in other ways. While cultural ecology shares the same commitment to material existence as does phenomenology and the Tlaloc cult, it is unable to exercise epoché.

Methodologically, the approach of this study can now be characterized as a phenomenology of ritual practice that is less involved in ascertaining essences (as with van der Leeuw or Merleau-Ponty) and instead more involved with bringing an interpretation of an Aztec understanding of land to bear on colonial and contemporary understandings of land. An assumption in this task is that many contemporary interpretations of the meaning of land have been inherited from the colonial era. In other words, Aztec history does not stand at a distance from one's relationships with an object of study, but influences and pressures a given interpretive location.

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