3402 - European Wild Men and Native Barbarians: Cross-cultural Dialogues in Early New Spain

This paper explores the cross-cultural interplay of concepts referring to the “savage” and “barbarian” in early colonial New Spain, focusing on the image of Chichimecs, identified both with contemporaneous northern groups and supposed remote ancestors of central Mexican communities. References to Chichimec roots and qualities can not only be found in the omnipresent historical tradition of pre-Hispanic origin that was recorded in numerous accounts of the past and frequently associated with a contemptuous view of a non-sedentary lifestyle as opposed to civilized agrarian culture, but also in ethnic perceptions shared by the Nahuas.

While certain ideas can be traced back to preconquest times, the perception of these peoples was also shaped and transformed during the colonial period, especially under the impact of the guerra chichimeca continuing across the sixteenth century on the northern periphery of Mesoamerica. In the case of Spanish witnesses this experience and its written output may be seen as a specific context within the European history of encounters with the “savage” in the New World. As such, it can also be discussed in the perspective of evolving concepts and ideas brought originally from the Old Continent, but reformulated and developed in such territories as the New Spain. On the other hand, these events as well as European perceptions of pagan peoples played an essential role in transforming the concepts shared by sedentary Nahua communities and their notion of chichimecayotl.

Palabras claves: New Spain, Nahuas, Chichimecs, savage, barbarian, ethnic stereotypes

Autores: Justyna, Olko (University of Warsaw, Poland / Polen)


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