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Films >> Otra Conquista, La (The Other Conquest) (1998) >>

See the extensive bibliography (divided into print, video/audio, and online resources) below the two historical context essays.

The Past: Aztec Religious Background, by Kim Weber

The Present: Zapatistas: The Modern Mayans, by Kelsey Cannon

Aztec Religious Background

[1] The Aztecs are perhaps best known for their notorious cannibalism and human sacrifices, practices that have earned their culture its place in history. However, the Aztec culture is rich with meaningful traditions and rituals that can yield a greater understanding of these ancient peoples beyond the shock value some of their ritualistic practices create. Unearthing some of the history behind these people can also aid in an understanding of The Other Conquest, where director Salvador Carrasco recreates Aztec rituals and alludes to both the Sun God Huitzilopochtli and the Mother Goddess Tonantzin. A deeper understanding of the Aztecs allows viewers to gain a greater understanding of Carrasco’s goals in his references to this mysterious culture in his film.

[2] The earliest history of the Aztec civilization dates back to the twelfth century. The Aztecs were part of a historical tradition of ancient civilizations, and some of their practices were derived from such earlier groups as the inhabitants of Teotihuacan and Tula (Smith 34). As they settled and established their culture, the Aztecs formed intricate city-states, mainly in central Mexico, throughout what is now known as the early Aztec period (Smith 42).

[3] Booth argues that it was the humanistic tendencies of the Aztec people, a desire to relate to their gods, that led to the creation of more specific and individualized deities. The sun was such a vital part of the culture that there were daily ceremonies and sacrifices to ensure that it rose each morning (Booth 421). The Sun God was attributed with leading the migratory Aztecs to their cities. In one origin myth, the Sun God spoke to the Aztec leader and told him where to lead the group to new land. Once the Aztecs were there, it was the Sun God’s benevolence that allowed the culture to begin to thrive (Carrasco 6). The success of the culture rested on keeping the sun and the other gods in balance with one another and keeping these gods happy. Additionally, Smith notes that “a fundamental idea of Aztec religion was that the gods sacrificed themselves in order to benefit humankind” (Smith 204). The Aztecs believed they had a duty to pay the gods back for this sacrifice by keeping the gods happy, and the most widely accepted way to do this was through ritualized sacrifices to the gods. The Aztecs saw themselves as the chosen people of the Sun God, so keeping him happy was a very serious duty. The Sun God was the god of war, and success in war was completely dependent on his will. In order to maintain balance and favor with the Sun God, he required blood as a sacrifice. Several historians note that, in particular, the Sun God favored the blood from the heart.

[4] The Aztec mythological and religious histories are inconsistent, which makes it difficult to establish one official belief of the origins of the Aztec gods (Smith 210). The Aztec religion was the product of the cultural traditions that had been taken from predecessor cultures, as well as new aspects that were unique to the Aztecs. Some of the Aztec gods can be traced back to Teotihuacan, while others were brought in beliefs from migrant groups who joined the Aztecs (Smith 211). Aztec gods were deities, each with specific attributes. They were sometimes depicted as humans for ritualistic purposes, but they did not have the same human-like attributes that gods like Zeus and Athena in the Greek tradition did (Smith 211). Although the gods often had overlapping purposes like fertility or war, there were over 200 distinctly named gods and goddesses (Smith 212). Each god or goddess had at least one temple where priests were in charge of the worship of that deity. The idol of each god and goddess was also kept in these temples (Smith 219).

[5] According to Rosemary Radford Ruether, the ultimate divinity in Aztec religion is both male and female, and Tonantzin represents the female side. In addition to the Sun God, who also represents the male component, the Mother Goddess Tonantzin plays an important part in Aztec tradition. Tonantzin is the female name for any maternal goddess. In the case of the Aztecs, Tonantzin is the Mother Goddess, but this title helps to explain why after the Spanish had been converting the Aztecs they were relating the Virgin Mary to a Mother Goddess and calling her Tonantzin. Calling Mary Tonantzin does not necessarily mean that the Aztecs understood both figures to be the same deity; but, rather, they understood both to represent maternal guidance in their respective religions. Tonantzin was the goddess of birth, health, and the future. Like the Sun God, she also demanded human sacrifice (Harrington 31).

[6] The emphasis on Tonantzin’s motherly characteristics within Aztec religion makes it clear why Topiltzin would have such an attachment to her in The Other Conquest. Additionally, the interchangeable nature of the title Tonantzin reconciles the fact that Topiltzin could have connected with the Virgin as a mother figure during trying times like his whipping, without necessarily confusing the two or wholeheartedly converting to Christianity. The importance of Tonantzin in Aztec culture explains why Topiltzin would look to fill such a void with similar love from a mother figure.

[7] Both the Sun God and the Mother Goddess place an emphasis on human sacrifice, and human sacrifice is one of the most controversial aspects of this ancient religion. Although the extent of Aztec human sacrifice is widely debated among scholars, most have settled on numbers between 15,000-20,000 human sacrifices annually (Harner 119). The priests had especially important roles in sacrificial rituals, and they were the people chosen to make the offerings to the gods during special ceremonies. A class of elite priests known as fire priests or tlenamacac was in charge of the most important rituals of human sacrifices (Smith 220).

[8] As mentioned above, blood was seen as especially pleasing to the gods, especially blood from the heart, which explains why rituals involved cutting this piece from the individual to be sacrificed (graphically detailed in one of the more intense scenes from The Other Conquest). Many sacrifices were conducted based on the calendar, and they were annual or regularly occurring ceremonies that took place at certain places or times. Harner notes that many of the ritualistic practices involved the cutting out of hearts, and almost all of the practices resulted in cannibalism of the victim. Some of the practices, however, were less conventional. One example of these less conventional practices is that occasionally children were drowned as part of special ceremonies. Prisoners of war were also sometimes sacrificed during rituals, as well as animals and various human and animal body parts (Harner 120). The specificity of these practices highlights how seriously the Aztecs took this practice, and the rigid element to these practices lessens the feeling of senselessness we might initially have when considering human sacrifice. This was an important and irreplaceable aspect of the culture, on which the Aztecs believed the survival of their society depended wholly in order to be looked upon favorably by the gods. To be chosen as the sacrifice was an honor and a type of heroism. The sacrificed individual singlehandedly determined how the gods responded to the group, at least for a period of time.

[9] A more thorough understanding of Aztec traditions and religious practices makes it easier to empathize with a culture which seems so distant from our own. Exploring the meaning behind Aztec deities and practices allows viewers to more fully engage with The Other Conquest because readers have a backdrop to frame the culture. Carrasco’s subtle references to the Sun God and the Mother Goddess, as well as the dramatic ritualistic sacrifice scene, seem less abrupt and confusing when a viewer can understand them within the organizational framework of a well organized and methodical ancient religious tradition. The Aztecs were not the hateful barbaric cannibals a top-level knowledge of their religion can paint them as. Rather, they were an organized group who committed some unorthodox practices based on their highly revered religious traditions.

Zapatistas: The Modern Mayans

[1] The Zapatistas, or the modern Mayans, are some of the remaining indigenous people of Mexico. This revolutionary group sprang into public consciousness just at the time that Salvador Carrasco’s The Other Conquest was gestating and with similar motivation. On August 13, 1991, the 470th anniversary of the fall of Mexico, Carrasco “started writing a treatment about a young Aztec scribe who resists the Spanish conquest by appropriating a statue of the Virgin Mary” (DVD commentary). And on January 1, 1994, in Chiapas, whose first bishop nearly five centuries before was the revered “Defender of the Indians” Bartolome de Las Casas, the ski-masked Zapatistas initiated an armed resistance aimed at producing a united front in the fight for indigenous rights and the freedom afforded to the other citizens of Mexico.

[2] The Other Conquest, says Carrasco, attempts to explore not only the process of the Spanish Conquest but this Zapatist “relevance to modern Mexico,” a nation that has refused to acknowledge the brutal reality of the Conquest and, accordingly, rendered the Native Americans invisible (“Invisible Sight” 168). But “look around you,” he continues, the Aztecs are still here. “We all have a bit of Topiltzin in us,” and, thanks to Subcomandante Marcos -- a popular figurehead of the Zapatista movement -- the “Damians [the Native actor who played Topiltzin] of our world [have] come out of the woodwork,” challenging Mexico to “restore a fundamental part of our identity” (“Invisible Sight” 177). Carrasco’s frustration with the rote repetition of banal stories about the Conquest drove him to “question the very roots of Mexican culture” and to unearth the embarrassment and shame that surround the egregious injustices of the historical truth (“Invisible Sight” 166). Consideration of Native American history in Mexico as it culminates in the Zapatista movement, then, provides a valuable historical context for understanding The Other Conquest’s reason for being.

[3] Chiapas, Mexico’s southernmost state, where the Zapatista movement originated, borders Guatemala, Belize, and just connects with Honduras. Several of the parallel sierras (mountain ranges) run through the state making the developed lowlands difficult to get to. The lowlands used to be part of the jungle and rainforest; however, now they exist as ranches or farms run by campesinos, local poor peasant farmers. The people of Chiapas are predominantly of indigenous Mayan descent, but over the years they developed into varied factions of indigenous culture, resulting in a variety of smaller self-governed tribes and the use of multiple dialects in the region. The most widely spoken languages are Txotxil Maya, which is spoken in the western highland municipalities; Tzeltal Maya, which is spoken in the eastern ones and further east into the lowlands; Chol Maya, which can be heard in the northeast near Tabasco; and, finally, Tojolabal Maya, which predominates the villages in the southeast towards the boarder of Guatemala (Benjamin). In spite of their many differences, the indigenous residents of Chiapas share a history of cyclical repression and rebellion that can be traced from the Conquest to the most current Zapatista movement.

[4] The quieted nature of the indigenous population of southern Mexico drew the attention of investigative scholars like Thomas Benjamin who highlights the ways in which the collective Mayan history, commonly misconceived as myth, is undermined and overrun by the history of the mestizo—the current representation of the traditional conqueror. He writes:

Indians of this region since the conquest have not produced written chronicles and histories of their own. The history of Chiapas has been written by Mexican, European and U.S. historians. Indians did not disappear from the pages of history; rather, they were simply not perceived, as Eric Wolf put it, “as participants in the same historical trajectory.” (418)

Benjamin claims that since history was and is recorded by Mexicans, Europeans, and Americans, the indigenous people of Mexico, the Mayans, died out along with the Conquest. Their histories were not subtracted from the popular perception of history; rather, their stories never made it into the history books in the first place. The reason for this exclusion, though, is disproven by the detailed oral history kept by designated tribal historians. These historians, as reported by Subcomandante Marcos, inherit the “memory of the community” and can recall, with amazing detail, the various histories of their people. These men, ranging from the young to the old, are the Mayan history books; however, their stories do not extend beyond Chiapas to the popularized consciousness of the classroom. Even the indigenous schoolteachers in the region teach to the exclusion of their own local, Mayan, history (Benjamin 421-22).

[5] Perhaps this exclusion breeds from what Tom Hayden refers to as “the nightmare of the American soul.” Hayden claims that few modern westerners want to question the Conquest—an event now defined on a genocidal level—leading to, not only ignorance of Mayan history, but also the reoccurrence of similar events and the exploitation of the indigenous people. The residents of Chiapas, now famous (or infamous) for the Zapatista uprising, have participated in numerous similar rebellions since the 1500’s. Hayden chronicles their various plights beginning with the Conquest, which wiped out 50% of Mayan civilization. The next uprising occurred in 1712 and involved demands made by the Spanish for crops and other resources; in 1824 the lands of the indigenous were appropriated, turning the residents of Chiapas into sharecroppers, or as Hayden claims “virtual slaves” (8). In subsequent rebellions of the 19th century the indigenous are violently repressed in their efforts for equality, and through the Mexican revolution in the 1910’s the state of Chiapas remained primarily driven by slave labor and appropriation of land.

[6] After the revolution that changed the face of Mexican politics and policy, the newly emerging Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) began to reform the land of Chiapas with infrastructure and an attempt at assimilation of the native people into Mexican culture, resulting in the rapid increase of the presence of commercial farmers. The commercial farmers, taking advantage of the resources of the fertile lowlands of Chiapas, forced the campesinos (peasant farmers) off of their land either physically or financially and subsequently exploited the indigenous as cheap labor. Benjamin describes the struggle faced by the residents of Chiapas:

The coletos—as residents of San Cristobal call themselves—still managed to exploit the surrounding population in marginal ways and emphasize their superiority in petty ways, such as requiring the Indians to cross their arms and bow submissively, as well as walk in the cobblestone streets, reserving the sidewalks for Ladinos . (432)

The Ladinos, mestizos of Hispanic descent but not indigenous like the modern Mayans, exploited the campesinos and other residents of Chiapas similar to the way Cortes exploited their ancestors during the Conquest—using them exclusively for labor and diminishing their humanity through “petty” acts of subservience. The time period and modernization of consumerism, however, resulted in increased and longer lasting financial mal-effects on the population, driving most of them into poverty. Like the Conquest, formerly self-sufficient families and communities were forced to rely on the economics of the foreigner (in later cases, the term “foreigner” becomes less clear as many of the Ladinos are also born and raised citizens of Mexico), driving them into a position of vulnerability, leaving them open to further exploitation.

[7] Throughout the early 20th century, uprisings and revolts continued to result in the brutalization and repression of the natives, but in 1974 approximately 1200 indigenous representatives met in San Cristobal to “provide a forum for the critical concerns of the indigenous people of Chiapas,” which served as a means through which to break the cycle of rebellion and repression, and “as it would be remembered, the Indians found their voice” (Benjamin 426). The Indigenous Congress, as it was called, served as a means for government involvement of the people of Chiapas and demanded “land reform, education in native languages, health care, and labor rights” (Hayden 10). The Indigenous Congress was seen as a turning point for the residents of Chiapas. However, the Congress—originally sanctioned by the government—gathered strength and support quickly enough to make the government nervous, and, as a result, the government formed two groups to support natives, the National Peasant Foundation and the Cooperative Society of Coffee Growers. These two groups served to split the members of the Indigenous Congress into factions, inhibiting their strength and unilateral support from all indigenous people; consequently, over the following decade, more factions continued to break off from the original unified group, resulting in twenty-four different peasant organizations by 1980 (Hayden 10).

[8] In the early 1980’s the organizational status of the indigenous people of Chiapas changes when Subcomandante Marcos (who, ironically, is not Mayan) arrives with other activists from the National Liberation Forces (FLN) to form the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) (Hayden 10). Named for a revolutionary leader of the Mexican revolution in the early 20th century, Emiliano Zapata, the Zapatistas rallied support from the individual indigenous leaders of Chiapas, once again forming an organization appealing to the various cultural factions of the modern Mayans. By the end of the 1980’s, the Zapatistas had over 1300 members, after only starting with three in 1983 (Hayden 10). With their membership of armed affiliates increasing into the 1000’s and their “sympathizers” (non-armed members) inflating their numbers exponentially, the Zapatistas made their international debut on New Years Day in 1994, the day of the official implementation of NAFTA.

[9] Rallying around slogans like “Tierra y Liberdad,” land and libery, and “Lucha Campesina,” the peasant’s struggle, the EZLN launched an armed uprising on large towns and ranches to protest neo-liberalism. Neo-liberalism is an economic and political ideology that stresses the efficiency of privatized trade and economic policy, maximizing the growth of the private sector; however, it also results in and promotes the exploitation of the lower classes—in this case the indigenous residents of Chiapas—while exponentially benefitting the upper classes (Zapatista). According to Anup Shah, “Neoliberalism is promoted as the mechanism for global trade and investment supposedly for all nations to prosper and develop fairly and equitably.” Removing tariffs, regulations, and other restrictions to capital flow allows the market to “balance itself”; however, Shah also conveys drawbacks to neo-liberalism as well. Citing some statistics, he states, “Some 3 billion people — or half of humanity — live on under 2 dollars a day” and “86 percent of the world’s resources are consumed by the world’s wealthiest 20 percent.” For the campesinos and indigenous people of Chiapas, the implementation of neo-liberal policies means that they will slip further into poverty as the wealthy use their natural resources for consumer goods elsewhere in the world. These negative consequences give weight to another popular Zapatista slogan “Para todos todo, para nosotros nada,” meaning “for everyone, everything, for us, nothing” (Zapatista).

[10] The Zapatistas struggled publically, though without much international news coverage, throughout the 1990’s and into the early 2000’s, culminating in the Indigenous Intercontinental Conference in 2007. The Conference—occurring six years after the 2001 election of Vincente Fox, the first non-PRI president in 71 years, and his promises of reform—demonstrated that the Zapatistas were still taking active steps to “gain a space within society” (Zapatista). Comandante David, another figurehead of the leader-less movement, remarked "The object of this meeting is to meet one another and to come to know one another’s pains and sufferings. It is to share our experiences, because each tribe is different.” He also stated that they chose the date because it marks “515 years since the invasion of ancient Indigenous territories and the onslaught of the war of conquest, spoils and capitalist exploitation” (Norell). The remarks of Comandante David illustrate the root of the Zapatista movement as over 500 years in the making, calling to mind the cyclical occurrence of uprising and violent repression.

[11] Salvador Carrasco believes “the Conquest is not over. And it is not perfectly clear who is doing the conquering,” illustrating his allegorical intentions with the influential film. In the film, of course, the Europeans come to conquer the natives of Mexico; however, in the time in the 1990s in which the movie was created, the Mexicans seemed to be conquering the indigenous citizens of the country. Rather than a clear foreign adversary, the indigenous face ambiguity in their struggles, but as Carrasco states, “It doesn’t take much . . . to see the obvious parallels between Topiltzin’s story and the contemporary plight of the Indians” (169). The fight of the Zapatistas for indigenous influence and autonomy reflects the origins of native oppression in the Conquest, and the fundamental struggles of the natives at that time permeate their cultural history and identity. As Subcomandante Marcos claims, “we are the product of 500 years of struggle” (Zapatista), showing that the Zapatistas are inextricably connected to their roots as natives of the land they occupy. According to the documentary Zapatista, the Zapatistas desire to remain active within the political and cultural psyche of Mexico in order to continue to effect change for the indigenous residents of Chiapas.

Print Resources

Arnold, Philip P. Eating Landscape: Aztec and European Occupation of Tlalocan. Niwot: UP of Colorado, 1999.
Arnold vividly explores the connection between religion and land during the times of the Aztecs. The central ceremonies that occurred throughout this particular region occurred to appease the gods in order to help bless and cultivate their land. For example, Arnold mentions how the Aztecs sacrificed children with the hopes of facilitating more rain for their crops and boost their harvests of corn. Ultimately, the author enumerates many other worship practices, including sacrifices of priests at lakes and on top of mountains, and concludes that the Aztecs created an "eating landscape" that was unique for that time period.
Benjamin, Thomas. "A Time of Reconquest: History, the Maya Revival, and the Zapatista Rebellion in Chiapas." American Historical Review 105.2 (2000): 417-50.
Thomas details the relations between the early Mayans and the Zapatistas. Explaining the origination of the movement all the way through to the implications of the most current details, the article gives light to the intricacies of the Zapatistas and their political standings. He emphasizes the role of history in culture and how the Europeans, and now the Mestizo Mexicans, squelched the history of the Zapatistas—the Mayan. He highlights the ways in which history is inextricably tied to cultural strength and political autonomy.
Bodmer, Beatriz Pastor. "Hernan Cortes and the Creation of the Model Conqueror." The Armature of Conquest. Stanford: Stanford UP, 1992. 50-100.
This chapter analyzes the letters of Hernan Cortes. Bodmer argues that Cortes's use of certain fictional structures and narrative strategies are part of what she calls the "discourse of mythification" –"a conception of the world and certain representational strategies that lead to the creation and perpetuation of a set of myths and models that can hardly be taken to convey accurately the concrete reality they purport to reveal and describe" (3). Bodmer starts by examining the context of a rebellion, then explains the narrative structure of a fictional justification, and, finally, she discusses the creation of a model. Bodmer uses numerous excerpts from Cortes's letters that show the mythical representation of the conquest and the conqueror, pointing out two stages in Cortes's characterization. Letters first presents him as a rebel who turns into a Renaissance hero, and then the hero becomes a model. Thus, Cortes's narrative discourse utilizes a "medieval ideological model and Renaissance philosophical principles" concurrently (100).
Booth, William. "Dramatic Aspects of Aztec Rituals." Educational Theatre Journal 18.4 (1966): 421-28.
Ritual was a mainstay in Aztec life. Every act in each ritual was special and intricately chosen, which gave important significance to each ritual. Booth delves into special festivals, human sacrifices, monthly rituals, and music and dance in order to consider the components of these important facets of Aztec daily life.
Bruni, Frank, and Ginger Thompson. "Bolstering Faith of Indians, Pope Gives Mexico a Saint." New York Times 1 August 2002: A10.
This news report covering the canonization of Juan Diego, to whom the Virgin of Guadalupe appeared, as the first indigenous saint, and the Pope's speech at the ceremony points to "considerable debate" about whether Diego was a real man or a marketing tool and whether the Church was offending indigenous people by courting them.
Burkhart, Louise M. "The Cult of the Virgin of Guadalupe in Mexico." South and Meso-American Native Spirituality: From the Cult of the Feathered Serpent to the Theology of Liberation. New York: Crossroad, 1993. 199-227.
Burkhart examines the complexities of the early stages of the Guadalupe's cult. Burkhart starts by providing the reader with a brief summary of the background of the apparition legend before summarizing and analyzing the legend. Burkhart then moves to discuss the image of the shrine, and she points out the possible syncretism between Guadalupe and Tonatzin. Burkhart ends her chapter by mentioning Guadalupe's role as intercessor and protector and the importance of her cult in today's Mexico.
Burkhart, Louise M. Before Guadalupe: The Virgin Mary in Early Colonial Nahuatl Literature. Albany: Institute for Mesoamerican Studies, University at Albany: Distributed by U of Texas P, 2001.
Burkhart presents a sampling of Nahuatl texts on the Virgin dating from the 1540s through the 1620s that can be considered the "canon" of early Nahua Marianism, including texts that represent the Franciscan, Augustinian, Dominican, and Jesuit orders. She considers the texts "before Guadalupe" in the sense that they were published before the shrine legend and in that these earlier Marian texts do not construct Mary as "overtly Mexican as the Guadalupe legend" (2). Burkhart juxtaposes the Spanish texts and Nahuatl translations and comments on each of the excerpts, taking into account a broader medieval context. The purpose of her book is to show the reader what texts were available and known to Nahuas. The book is organized neither by genre nor in chronological order according to the date of publication of the excepted texts but according to the major episodes in Mary's life (i.e. the Conception, nativity, childhood and marriage, Annunciation, Visitation, Purification, the Sorrowing Mother and the Assumption). The book also includes sixteen plates that illustrate the passages analyzed. The last two chapters are devoted to the analysis of some prayers and miracle narratives.
Carrasco, David. "Where the Jaguars Roar: Aztec Human Sacrifice as Debt Payment." Daily Life of the Aztecs: People of the Sun and Earth. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1998.
In an attempt to clarify the highly biased image of the Aztecs that the common reader usually has, Carrasco explains the contextual forces that the Aztecs took into account when sacrificing human beings in their ceremonies. Carrasco defines human sacrifice as "the killing of human beings and the use of their bodies and blood for ritual intentions that include some purposeful communication with the gods" (185-86). Carrasco first mentions instances of human sacrifice that have occurred throughout history in different places such as India, Europe, South America, North America, and Japan. Carrasco then refers to different places of Aztec sacrifice and the general patterns of the sacrificial ceremony. Finally, Carrasco provides the reader with two specific examples of human sacrifice: the sacrifice of Tezcatlipoca and the feast of the flaying of men. The latter is significant because "it included the eating of small parts of the victim's body" (199). Carrasco ends his chapter by briefly referring to other Aztec festivals such as Atlcahualo and Ochpanitti and to "the mass-sacrifice society of the Spaniards" who killed "large numbers of Indians without legal or rational justification" (205). The writer includes five drawings from different codices to illustrate some of his points.
Carrasco, David. City of Sacrifice: The Aztec Empire and the Role of Violence in Civilization. Boston: Beacon Press, 1999.
Carrasco examines and enumerates the Aztec religious practices within the capital city, Tenochtitlan, providing vivid descriptions of religious activities present within their capital and its great temple, most notably the violent ritual of human sacrifice. The provocative central question of the book is, is civilization built on violence? Thus, Carrasco, through his detailed portrayal of Aztec life, attempts to connect the reader to the past by examining how certain types of violence in urban life in Tenochtitlan are quite similar to the modern cities we live in today.
Carrasco, Salvador. "The Invisible Sight." The Zapatista Reader. Ed. Tom Hayden. New York: Thunder's Mouth Press, 2002.
Carrasco talks in detail about his own work. His purpose is to "shed new light on old events," "to question the very roots of Mexican culture," to confront "official history," and, in a time in which "the Zapatistas have peacefully marched into the capital," to make us think about "the situation of Mexican Indians today." "The Conquest is not over," he says, "and it's not perfectly clear who is doing the conquering." The "other conquest" referenced here is a "reverse conquest": "it is the conquest carried out by the indigenous people, who appropriated European religious forms and made them their own." Along with Carrasco's DVD commentary, this is the place to start in thinking about the film.
Carrasco, Salvador. Director's Commentary. The Other Conquest. DVD. Englewood: Starz Home Entertainment, 2007.
Contrary to some such commentaries, this one is very useful and, along with Carrasco's "Invisible Sight" essay, the place to start in understanding the film. Carrasco's describes such things as the genesis of the story, the theme of sacrifice, the characterization of Cortes and Tecuichpo, the flogging scene, the relation with Octavio Paz, the casting of Topiltzin, and his goal: "I do hope that despite everything, the ending of the film feels uplifting, and obviously not in a naive way but in that there might be the possibility of understanding and peaceful co-existence if we learn to respect our differences."
Caso, Alfonso. The Aztecs: People of the Sun. Norman: U of Oklahoma P, 1958.
Basic, lavishly illustrated, account of Aztec religion written for a popular audience. Divided into such sections as "The Creation of the Gods," "The Creation of Man," "Gods of Fire," "Earth Gods," and "People of the Sun."
Cortes, Hernando. Letters from Mexico. Ed. Anthony Pagden. New Haven: Yale UP, 1986.
Cortes's five letters detail his own version of the conquest of the Aztecs and create his image as powerful conquistador. One of the most important primary documents of the invasion/conquest.
Diaz del Castillo, Bernal. The Conquest of New Spain. Ed. J. M. Cohen. New York: Penguin, 1963.
One of the key primary sources. The eyewitness account of the defeat of the Aztecs by one of the conquistadors accompanying Cortes. Diaz brings his experience to life, vividly chronicling his journey into the unknown forests, the city of Tenochtitlan and its unique markets, people and culture. More importantly, the author provides first-person details of the overthrow of Moctezuma and the Aztec Empire by Cortes in a chilling and exciting account. In a famously summarized line, Diaz tells the reader that the Spanish "went there to serve God, and also to get rich." Overall, Diaz's tale is gritty and realistic and illustrates the Aztec oppression by the Spanish in a unique manner.
Goizueta, Roberto S. "Our Lady of Guadalupe: The Heart of Mexican Identity." Religion and the Creation of Race and Ethnicity: An Introduction. Ed. Craig R. Prentiss. New York: New York UP, 2003.
Goizueta discusses the centrality of Guadalupe in the Mexican American community, pointing out her relevance in "the birth of Mexico as mestizo people" and her role as "liberator of the poor" (140). Goizueta emphasizes throughout the chapter the vital importance of Juan Diego as the "chosen" one, and the representative of the poor and the oppressed, and his intimate connection with La Morenita. The writer suggests that Juan Diego and the Virgin are inseparable as a symbol in the Mexican ideology and that "to question the reality of Juan Diego is to question the reality of Guadalupe," which, in turn, may lead to "deny the inherent dignity of the Mexican people" (149).
Harner, Michael. "The Ecological Basis for Aztec Sacrifice." American Ethnologist 4.1 (1977): 117-35.
Harner explores human sacrifice, what he terms to be "an extreme in known cultural behavior." He cites the shockingly high numbers of human sacrifices in Aztec cultural traditions yet also theorizes why these practices were a result of the problems directly related to where the Aztecs were located in Mexico.
Harrington, Patricia. "Mother of Death, Mother of Rebirth: The Virgin of Guadalupe." Journal of the American Academy of Religion 56.1 (1988): 25-50.
The importance of the Virgin in Mexican culture. Harrington looks at the meaning of the Virgin for Spaniards and Indians and how when these two groups first met, their understandings of the Virgin were different. She discusses how both groups created a nationalistic understanding of Guadalupe which brought both of their cultures into one group.
Hayden, Tom, ed. The Zapatista Reader. New York: Thunder's Mouth Press, 2002.
A collection of essays by intellectuals, humanitarians, and people close to the struggle of the Zapatistas. Salvador Carrasco's essay explains the relation of The Other Conquest to the plight of the Zapatistas in Chiapas—the essay also reflects his personal opinion on the issue. Also included is a comprehensive timeline of events regarding the progression of the Zapatista movement originating with Mayan suppression in the time of Cortez.
Kurtz, Donald. "The Virgin of Guadalupe and the Politics of Becoming Human." Journal of Anthropological Research 38 (1982): 194-210.
Kurtz analyzes the Virgin of Guadalupe from a liminality conceptual framework, explaining that "liminality provides a time-space context within which, as a consequence of dialectic tensions, symbols may emerge and serve to resolve social contradictions" (194). The author argues that the miracle of the apparition was necessary to settle the dispute between the judges of the first Audiencia, who considered the Indians as nonpersons, and Bishop Juan de Zumarraga and the Franciscan clergy, who acknowledged the Indian population as human beings "entitled to respect and dignity" (208). The Virgin of Guadalupe thus stands as a political symbol that protects the Indians and validates the clergy's point of view.
Las Casas, Bartolome de. The Tears of the Indians: Being an Historical and True Account of the Cruel Massacres and Slaughters of above Twenty Millions of Innocent People. London, 1656.
The first English translation of Las Casas's brutal depiction of the destruction of the Indies that occurred in the wake of discovery. The source of the Black Legend.
Leon-Portilla, Miguel, ed. The Broken Spears: The Aztec Account of the Conquest of Mexico. Boston: Beacon P, 1992.
The book begins with a brief introduction that provides the reader with a general panorama of Aztec life. The text is beautifully illustrated with Alberto Beltran's pen-and-ink drawings which are representations of the original codices paintings. The Broken Spears was translated from Nahuatl into Spanish by Angel Maria Garibay K and into English by Lysander Kempt. The book is divided in fifteen chapters. The first thirteen deal with the events that took place during the Conquest until the fall of Tenochtitlan. The last two chapters provide "a somewhat different account of the conquest written in 1528 by the anonymous informants of Tlatelolco, and three of the icnocicatl (threnodies, or songs of sorrow) lamenting the defeat and destruction of the Aztec capital" (3). As Kempt explains in the Translator's Note, the text has been translated with the common reader in mind. All obscure passages, which may appeal to the scholar, have been simplified or deleted for the sake of clarity.
Norrell, Brenda. "Zapatistas Select Yaqui to Host Intercontinental Summit in Mexico." Narco News 7 May 2007.
Narco News is an online publication covering, primarily, the war on drugs throughout regions in the Americas. Norrell wrote a special feature on the Zapatistas in May of 2007 and the Intercontinental Indigenous Conference, an event which went underreported in the United States of America. The pro-Zapatista article details the IIC and its happenings.
Paz, Octavio. The Labyrinth of Solitude: Life and Thought in Mexico. New York: Grove Press, 1961.
Classic view of Mexico's troubled origins and nature as a hybrid, mestizo, orphaned, bastard culture: "The history of Mexico is the history of a man seeking his parentage, his origins. . . . He wants to go back beyond the catastrophe he suffered: he wants to be a sun again, to return to the center of that life from which he was separated one day. (Was that day the Conquest? Independence?) Our solitude has the same roots as religious feelings. it is a form of orphanhood, an obscure awareness that we have been torn from the All, and an ardent search: a flight and a return, an effort to re-establish the bonds that unite us with the universe. This is a view that clearly influenced Carrasco, who has said, "I think Paz is right in suggesting that la Virgen de Guadalupe is the answer to the orphaned state of the indigenous after the conquest."
Prescott, William H. History of the Conquest of Mexico. 1843. New York: Random House, 1998.
The monumental 19th century history of the invasion/conquest, a "magnificent epic," in Prescott's own words.
Read, Kay Almere. Time and Sacrifice in the Aztec Cosmos. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1998.
Read analyzes important religious concepts of the Aztecs, or more accurately, of the Mexica-Tenocha. Read illustrates the text with her own line drawings and graphs. Read explains in great detail a calendric device known as 2-reed plaque. The plaque is a pictorial representation which depicts the "connections that Mexica culture made between time and ritual sacrifice" (xiii). Read argues that the religious concepts of time and place were interconnected for the Mexica. Read divides her book in two parts. Part I deals with one of the images of the plaque that portrays the "temporal transformation." Part II is devoted to the other image of the plaque which explains the "sacrificial transformation" and depicts the importance of human sacrifice. The book also includes two useful Appendixes. Appendix 1 is a glossary of Mexica Names and Terms; and Appendix 2 explains the calendric workings and the mathematical calculations in depth.
Ruether, Rosemary Radford. "Tonantzin-Guadalupe: The Meeting of Aztec and Christian Female Symbols in Mexico." Goddesses and the Divine Feminine: A Western Religious History. Berkeley: U of California P, 2005.
This chapter examines the Mexican female divinities and then discusses the Marian devotion that was brought and imposed by the Spanish. By exploring the violent encounter of the two cultures, Ruether describes the unintended "syncretism of the Catholic Mary and a pre-Columbian veneration of a Mother Goddess, Tonantzin" in the veneration of Guadalupe (191).
Sahagún, Bernardino de. The War of Conquest: How It Was Waged Here in Mexico: The Aztecs' Own Story as Given to Fr. Bernardino de Sahagun. Ed. Arthur J. O. Anderson and Charles E. Dibble. Salt Lake City: U of Utah P, 1978.
Separate publication of the twelfth book of the General History, the Aztec's own version of the events between 1519-1521, comprising their defeat. The most important primary document of the "other" side of the invasion/conquest.
Smith, Michael E. The Aztecs. Malden: Blackwell Publishers, Inc., 1996.
Smith provides an overview of the basics of Aztec life, tracing the historical background of the culture from the growth of city-states to the eventual fall of the civilization. He also spends time exploring daily life for the Aztecs, from commerce and money in markets to diets, social norms, and art and entertainment. Smith also addresses human sacrifice and the important roles the gods and goddesses played in daily life.
Tanner, Travis J. "Reading From Sand Creek." Kenyon Review 32.1 (2010): 142-64.
"Whenever I teach Simon J. Ortiz's from Sand Creek (1981), I like to pair it with Bartolomé de las Casas's A Brief Account of the Destruction of the Indies (1542). The two texts are strikingly similar in their objective to account for the atrocities committed against the indigenous peoples of the Americas. Both bear witness to the historical silence that seals over the death and inequality that is the origin story of the New World. Yet despite being separated by more than four hundred years and diverse geographic locations and cultural traditions, they reflect one another; the same crimes in one are observable in the other, reminding us that the horrors of the past persist unabated in the present. This is what I point out to my students. But I also try to make clear their significant differences."
Wolf, Eric R. "The Virgin of Guadalupe: A Mexican National Symbol." Journal of American Folklore 71 (1958): 34-39.
Wolf analyzes the Virgin of Guadalupe as a "Mexican master symbol" which represents the hopes of the entire Mexican society (34). After briefly mentioning the origin myth of the Guadalupan image and shrine, Wolf argues that the Guadalupe symbolizes a "collective representation" of Mexican society. Guadalupe simultaneously stands for "Mother, food, hope, health, life; supernatural salvation and salvation from oppression; chosen People and national independence" (38).

See Also

Arias, Santa, and Eyda M.Merediz. Approaches to Teaching the Writings of Bartolomé de Las Casas. New York: Modern Language Association of America, 2008.

Beck, Lauren. "Illustrating the Conquest in the Long Eighteenth Century: Theodore de Bry and His Legacy." Book Illustration in the Long Eighteenth Century: Reconfiguring the Visual Periphery of the Text. Ed. Christina Ionescu. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars, 2011. 501-40.

Benjamin, Thomas. A Rich Land, A Poor People: Politics and Society in Modern Chiapas. Albuquerque: U of New Mexico P, 1996.

Bierhorst, John. The Mythology of Mexico and Central America. New York: W. Morrow, 1990.

Boyer, Patricio. "Framing the Visual Tableaux in the Brevísima relación de la destruición de las Indias." Colonial Latin American Review 18.3 (2009): 365-82.

Brading, D. A. The Mexican Phoenix: Our Lady of Guadalupe: Image and Tradition across Five Centuries. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2001.

Brundage, Burr Cartwright. The Fifth Sun: Aztec Gods, Aztec World. Austin: U of Texas P, 1979.

Campbell, Ena. "The Virgin of Guadalupe and the Female Self-Image: A Mexican Case History." Mother Worship: Theme and Variations. Ed. James J. Preston. Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P, 1982.

Carr, Barry. "'From the Mountains of the Southeast': A Review of Recent Writings on the Zapatistas of Chiapas." Journal of Iberian and Latin American Studies 3 (December 1997): 109–23.

Carrasco, David. Quetzalcóatl and the Irony of Empire: Myths and Prophecies in the Aztec Tradition Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1992.

Casas, Bartolomé de las. In Defense of the Indians; the Defense of the Most Reverend Lord, Don Fray Bartolomé de las Casas, of the Order of Preachers, late Bishop of Chiapa, against the Persecutors and Slanderers of the Peoples of the New World Discovered across the Seas. 1552. Translated, edited, and annotated by Stafford Poole. DeKalb: Northern Illinois UP, 1974.

Castillo, Ana, ed. Goddess of the Americas: Writings on the Virgin of Guadalupe. New York: Riverhead Books, 1996.

Clendinnen, Inga. Aztecs: An Interpretation. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1991.

Damrosch, David. "The Aesthetics of Conquest: Aztec Poetry before and after Cortés." Representations 33 (1991): 101-20.

Díaz Polanco, Héctor. Indigenous Peoples in Latin America: The Quest for Self-Determination. Lucia Rayas, trans. Boulder, 1997.

Demarest, Donald, and Coley Taylor. The Dark Virgin: The Book of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Fresno: Academy Guild Press, 1956.

Dodds Pennock, Caroline. Bonds of Blood: Gender, Lifecycle and Sacrifice in Aztec Culture. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.

Edmonson, Munro S., ed. Sixteenth Century Mexico: The Work of Sahagún. Albuquerque: U of New Mexico P, 1974.

González, Jiménez, and Victor Manuel, eds. Chiapas: Guía para descubrir los encantos del estado. Mexico City: Editorial Océano de México, SA de CV, 2009.

Gossen, Gary H., ed. South and Mesoamerican Native Spirituality: From the Cult of the Feathered Serpent to the Theology of Liberation. New York: Crossroads, 1993.

Gruzinski, Serge. Images at War: Mexico from Columbus to Blade Runner. Durham: Duke UP, 2001.

Harvey, Neil. The Chiapas Rebellion: The Struggle for Land and Democracy. Durham: Duke UP, 1998.

Holloway, John, and Eloina Peláez, eds. Zapatista! Reinventing Revolution in Mexico. London, 1998.

Jara, Rene. "The Inscription of Creole Consciousness: Fray Servando de Mier." 1492-1992: Re/Discovering Colonial Writing. Ed. Rene Jara and Nicholas Spadaccini. Minneapolis: Prisma Institute, 1989.

Joyce, Rosemary A. Gender and Power in Prehispanic Mesoamerica. Austin: U of Texas P, 2000.

Katzenberger, Elaine, ed. First World, Ha Ha Ha! The Zapatista Challenge. San Francisco, 1995.

LaFaye, Jacques. Quetzalcóatl and Guadalupe: The Formation of Mexican National Consciousness, 1531-1813. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1976.

LaFrance,David. "Chiapas in Rebellion: An Early Assessment." Mexican Studies/Estudios Mexicanos 12 (Winter 1996): 91–105.

Las Casas, Bartolomé de. In defense of the Indians; the defense of the Most Reverend Lord, Don Fray Bartolomé de las Casas, of the Order of Preachers, late Bishop of Chiapa, against the Persecutors and Slanderers of the Peoples of the New World discovered across the Seas. Translated, edited, and annotated by Stafford Poole. DeKalb: Northern Illinois UP, 1974.

Las Casas, Bartolome. A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies. Intro. Anthony Pagden. New York: Penguin, 1992.

Léon-Portilla, Miguel, ed. Native Mesoamerican Spirituality New York: Paulist Press, 1980.

Leon-Portilla, Miguel. The Aztec Image of Self and Society: An Introduction to Nahua Culture. Salt Lake City: U of Utah P, 1992.

Lockhart, James. We People Here: Nahuatl Accounts of the Conquest of Mexico. Berkeley: U of California P, 1993.

Lockhart,James. The Nahuas after the Conquest: A Social and Cultural History of the Indians of Central Mexico, Sixteenth Through Eighteenth Centuries. Stanford: Stanford UP, 1992.

Markman, Roberta H., and Peter T. Markman. The Flayed God: The Mythology of Mesoamerica -- Sacred Texts and Images from Pre-Columbian Mexico and Central America. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1992.

Marrero-Fente, Raúl. "Human Rights and Academic Discourse: Teaching the Las Casas-Sepúlveda Debate in the Times of the Iraq War." Hispanic Issues On Line 4.1 (2009): 247-59.

Napolitano, Valentina, and Xochitl Leyva Solano, eds. Encuentros Antropológicos: Power, Identity and Mobility in Mexican Society. London, 1998.

Nash, June. "The Reassertion of Indigenous Identity: Mayan Responses to State Intervention in Chiapas." Latin American Research Review 30 (1995): 7–41.

Peterson, Jeanette. "The Virgin of Guadalupe: Symbol of Conquest or Liberation?" Art Journal 51.4 (1992): 39-47.

Poole, Stafford. Our Lady of Guadalupe: The Origins and Sources of a Mexican National Symbol, 1531–1797. Tucson: U of Arizona P, 1995.

Read, Kay Almere, and Jason J. González. Handbook of Mesoamerican Mythology. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2000.

Restall, Matthew, et al., eds. Mesoamerican Voices: Native Language Writings from Colonial Mexico, Oaxaca, Yucatan, and Guatemala. New York: Cambridge UP, 2005.

Restall, Matthew. Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest. New York: Oxford UP, 2003.

Rodriquez, Jeanette. "Tonantzin-Guadalupe: From Passion, Death to Resurrection. The Many Faces of Mary. Ed. Diego Irarrázaval, Susan A Ross, and Marie-Theres Wacker. London: SCM Press, 2008. 106-15.

Ross, John. Rebellion from the Roots: Indian Uprising in Chiapas. Monroe: Common Courage Press, 1995.

Sahagún, Bernardino de. General History of the Things of New Spain: Florentine Codex. Salt Lake City: U of Utah, 1950-1982.

Sousa, Lisa, Stafford Poole, and James Lockhart. The Story of Guadalupe: Luis Laso de la Vega's Huei tlamahuicoltica of 1649. Stanford: Stanford UP, 1998.

Sullivan, Thelma D., and T. J. Knab. A Scattering of Jades: Stories, Poems, and Prayers of the Aztecs. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994.

Taylor, William. "The Virgin of Guadalupe in New Spain: An Inquiry into the Social History of Marian Devotion." American Ethnologist 14 (1987): 9-33.

Tierney, Patrick. The Highest Altar: Unveiling the Mystery of Human Sacrifice. New York: Penguin Books, 1990.

Todorov , Tzvetan. The Conquest of Mexico: The Question of the Other. New York: Harper and Row, 1984.

Vento, Arnold Carlos. "Aztec Myths and Cosmology: Historical-Religious Misinterpretation and Bliss." Wicazo Sa Review 11.1 (1995): 1-23.

Womack, John, ed. Rebellion in Chiapas: An Historical Reader. New York: New Press, 1999.

Video/Audio Resources

Basilica of Guadalupe
Video tour of the most visited Catholic shrine in the world.
The Buried Mirror: Reflections on Spain and the New World. Public Media Video, 1991.
5-part documentary: "Carlos Fuentes, the best-selling Mexican author, looks for his forebears in the mix of people that created Latin America: Spanish, Arab, Jewish, Indian, and African. He asks what is unique in their culture that is cause for celebration in the 500th anniversary year of Columbus."
John Sayles reads Bartolome de Las Casas
Filmmaker Sayles reads a short portion of Bartolome de Las Casas's shocking account of the "brief destruction of the Indies" that gives an eye-witness view of what followed "discovery."
"A freely distributed documentary about the Zapatista people of the Chiapas."
Zapatista. Big Noise Films, 1998. Film.
An independently produced film that attempts to shed some light on the mysterious and intimidating-seeming figures that are the Zapatistas. With soundbites from figureheads like Subcomandante Marcos and political intellectuals the film figuratively removes the mask from the rebellious figure, illuminating their struggles and reasons behind their actions. The film is heavily pro-Zapatista; however, it has excellent primary sources—Zapatistas themselves—that provide excellent insight into the "lucha," or fight, of the indigenous people of Chiapas.
Zapatistas in Lacandona
The documentary "The Zapatistas and the Rainforest of Chiapas, Mexico," originally produced in the 90's by the Native Forest Network.

Online Resources

Anonymous Conqueror, Narrative of Some Things of New Spain and of the Great City of Temestitan, México.
A supposed conquistador under Cortes provides a detailed account of the Spanish interaction with and conquest of the Aztec Empire in pre-Columbian/Mexico. The author comments on almost everything that he encounters, including the people, their religion, their government, architecture, warfare and, most uniquely, Aztec human sacrifice. Overall, this particular narrative is one of the few surviving Spanish first-hand texts about the conquest into Mexico and is an intriguing look at Aztec life.
The Arguments of Las Casas
Bartolome de Las Casas, the celebrated "Defender of the Indians," engaged in a famous debate with Juan Ines de Sepulveda over the rights of the Indians. Las Casas stands behind Fray Diego's exhortation to "preach by example."
The Arguments of Sepulveda
Juan Gines de Sepulveda was a Spanish priest who engaged in a famous mid-15th century debate with Bartolome de Las Casas over the rights of the Indians. Carrasco has said that Sepulveda represents the views that Fray Diego brought to Mexico in the beginning of the film.
Aztec Sacrifice. Post-Conquest Nahua Painting, c. 1560
Priests hold excavated heart to sun atop teocall.
Bartolome de Las Casas: Protector of the Indians
Painting in San Cristóbal de Las Casas University.
Basilica de Santa Maria de Guadalupe
Official website of the church dedicated to Mexico's patron saint.
Boudreaux, Richard. "Latin America's Indigenous Saint Stirs Anger, Pride." Los Angeles Times 30 July 2002.,0,5819241.story
News story associated with the canonization of Juan Diego: "When the Vatican gave approval last year for Juan Diego Cuauhtlahtoatzin to become the Americas' first indigenous Roman Catholic saint, many of Mexico's 10 million Indians welcomed the honor as holy vindication of their struggle to overcome centuries of racism and gain recognition as first-class citizens. But when the church unveiled its official portrait of the 16th century Chichimeca Indian, racial pride turned to puzzlement and, for some, to anger. The portrait shows a light-skinned, full-bearded man who looks more like one of the sword-wielding Spanish conquistadors who subjugated the Aztec empire. It appears on millions of posters, stamps and wallet-sized prints distributed in advance of Pope John Paul II's arrival here today to canonize Juan Diego."
The Bull Inter Caetera (Alexander VI), May 4, 1493
Subsequent to "discovery," in this document the Pope awarded all lands west of a line in the Atlantic to Spain. This is the act that conferred "ownership" of Native American lands to "us."
The Conquistadors
Web site accompanying a PBS series provides an interesting and efficient introduction to and overview of the Spanish conquest of Mexico.
Detail from Massacre of the Rain Dancers by Alvarado's Soldiers
This is the massacre at which La Otra Conquista begins.
Emmanuel Leutze, The Storming of the Teocalli by Cortez and His Troops
This battle was the Aztec response to the massacre led by Pedro Alvarado at Templo Major, a painting based on William Prescott's history, a battle about which Prescott said, "The final struggle of the two races -- the decisive death grapple of the savage and the civilized man . . . with all its immense results.
González Camarena, Jorge. La fusión de las culturas.
Powerful painting of cultural clash by prominent 20th century Mexican artist symbolizing what, in the minds of some, Columbus wrought. Some of González Camarena's works, like this one, depict soldiers in violent combat -- a metaphor for Mexico's historic clash of cultures.
Hernando Cortes on the Web
Gateway-type site with links to various other sites, not only on Cortes but Bernal Diaz, Las Casas, and etc.
Homily of the Holy Father John Paul II
Mexico City, Wednesday July 31, 2002: Canonization of Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, the first indigenous saint: "The noble task of building a better Mexico, with greater justice and solidarity, demands the cooperation of all. In particular, it is necessary today to support the indigenous peoples in their legitimate aspirations, respecting and defending the authentic values of each ethnic group. Mexico needs its indigenous peoples and these peoples need Mexico!"
Human sacrifice in Aztec culture
Pretty good overview of this subject dramatized powerfully in the early part of the film and, of course, a main element in considering the Aztecs barbarians.
The Massacre in the Main Temple
Puts side-by-side the Aztec and Spanish accounts of the massacre at Templo Mayor, May 10, 1520 -- the massacre with which The Other Conquest begins.
The Mexica / Aztecs
Encyclopedia-type overview.
New Spain
The Literature of Justification project, considering how Spain justified taking Native American land and making war.
NICAN MOPOHUA, the original XVI Century Guadalupe´s apparitions story
English translation of the story of the Virgin and Juan Diego.
Orique, David. "Bartolomé de las Casas: A Brief Outline of His Life and Labor"
Las Casas, known as the Defender of the Indians, was a strong voice calling for an end to Spanish violence in favor of, as Fray Diego says in the film, preaching by example.
Our Lady of Guadalupe
An example of contemporary devotion to the Catholic Mother Goddess.
The Requerimiento (1510)
A Miranda-type procedure absurdly devised by the Spanish, this document, threatening murder and slavery and demanding instantaneous submission and allegiance, was to be read to Indian groups on first contact. A dramatically horrible example of how the Spanish treated the Indians.
Saint Juan Diego: A Model of Humility
An example of devotion to the first indigenous saint, the Indian to whom the Virgin of Guadalupe appeared.
Saunders, P. "Unleashing Market Forces: The Social Policy Implications of Industrial Relations." Univesrity of New South Wales Law Journal 29.1 (2006).
Saunders explains neo-liberalism and how it affects global markets. Though his references are typically in relation to Australian politics, the reader can gain an understanding of neoliberalism—the economic policy that ignited the Zapatista rebellions.
Sepulveda, Juan Ginés De. Democrates Alter, Or, on the Just Causes for War Against the Indians.
Juan Gines de Sepulveda was a Spanish priest who engaged in a famous mid-15th century debate with Bartolome de Las Casas over the rights of the Indians. Carrasco has said that Sepulveda represents the views that Fray Diego brought to Mexico in the beginning of the film. See above for a summary of Sepulveda's arguments.
Sermon by Antonio de Montesinos (1511)
The famous sermon that triggers Las Casas's "conversion," in which Montesinos asserts the humanity of the Native Americans.
Shah, Anup. "A Primer on Neoliberalism." Global Issues 22 Aug. 2010. Web. 27 Feb. 2012. is an online publication, fueled mainly by freelance writers, that helps to shed light on issues around the world from a variety of perspectives. Shah's article details neo-liberalism and the pro's and con's of the economic policy in how it relates to countries of various economic stability. The article is primarily pro neoliberalism, but it does touch upon the criticisms of the system.
Theodore de Bry images of Las Casas.
De Bry's images "popularized" the horrors following discovery that Bartolome de Las Casas recounted in his Brief Destruction of the Indies.
Theodore De Bry's Illustrations for Bartolome de Las Casas's Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies
Another collection of images accompanying Las Casas's text.
Wikipedia contributors. "Bartolomé de las Casas." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 26 Feb. 2010. Web. 1 Mar. 2010.
A decent quick account of Las Casas, the celebrated Defender of the Indians, an historical figure called to mind when Fray Diego promotes preaching by example rather than using force against the Indians.
Helpful collection of links to this Mexican Native American movement with whose general aims Salvador Carrasco himself has associated his film.