Parution : Writing without words : alternative literacies in Mesoamerica and the Andes

Writing without words
Writing without words


Elizabeth Hill Boone is Director of Pre-Columbian Studies at Dumbarton Oaks.

Walter D. Mignolo is Professor in the Department of Romance Studies and the Program in Literature at Duke University.

Résumé de l’éditeur

The history of writing, or so the standard story goes, is an ascending process, evolving toward the alphabet and finally culminating in the “full writing” of recorded speech. Writing without Words challenges this orthodoxy, and with it widespread notions of literacy and dominant views of art and literature, history and geography. Asking how knowledge was encoded and preserved in Pre-Columbian and early colonial Mesoamerican cultures, the authors focus on systems of writing that did not strive to represent speech. Their work reveals the complicity of ideology in the history of literacy, and offers new insight into the history of writing.
The contributors–who include art historians, anthropologists, and literary theorists–examine the ways in which ancient Mesoamerican and Andean peoples conveyed meaning through hieroglyphic, pictorial, and coded systems, systems inseparable from the ideologies they were developed to serve. We see, then, how these systems changed with the European invasion, and how uniquely colonial writing systems came to embody the post-conquest American ideologies. The authors also explore the role of these early systems in religious discourse and their relation to later colonial writing.
Bringing the insights from Mesoamerica and the Andes to bear on a fundamental exchange among art history, literary theory, semiotics, and anthropology, the volume reveals the power contained in the medium of writing.

Contributors. Elizabeth Hill Boone, Tom Cummins, Stephen Houston, Mark B. King, Dana Leibsohn, Walter D. Mignolo, John Monaghan, John M. D. Pohl, Joanne Rappaport, Peter van der Loo


  • Preface and Acknowledgments vii
  • Introduction: Writing and Recording Knowledge / Elizabeth Hill Boone 3
  • Literacy among the Pre-Columbian Maya: A Comparative / Stephen Houston 27
  • Aztec Pictorial Histories: Records without Words / Elizabeth Hill Boone 50
  • Voicing the Painted Image: A Suggestion for Reading the Reverse of the Codez Cospi / Peter L. van der Loo 77
  • The Text in the Body, the Body in the Text: The Embodied Sign in Mixtec Writing / John Monaghan 87
  • Hearing the Echoes of Verbal Art in Mixtec Writing / Mark B. King 102
  • Mexican Codices, Maps and Lienzos as Social Contracts / John M. D. Pohl 137
  • Primers for Memory: Cartographic Histories and Nahua Identity / Dana Leibsohn 161
  • Representation in the Sixteenth Century and the Colonial Image of the Inca / Tom Cummins 188
  • Signs and Their Transmission: The Question of the Book in the New World / Walter D. Mignolo 220
  • Object and Alphabet: Andean Indians and Documents in the Colonial Period / Joanne Rappaport 271
  • Afterword: Writing and Recorded Knowledge in Colonial and Postcolonial Situations / Walter D. Mignolo 292
  • Index 313

Informations pratiques

  • Éditeur : Durham (D.C.) ; London : Duke university press
  • Date de parution : 1994
  • Description matérielle : 1 vol. (VIII-324 p.) : ill. ; 25 cm
  • Note(s) : Bibliogr. p. 311-313. Notes bibliogr. Index
  • ISBN 0-8223-1377-4 (rel.)


  • PARIS-BnF : Tolbiac – Rez-de-jardin – libre-accès – Littérature et art – Salle U – Langues et littératures africaines, amérindiennes et océaniennes : 497 BOON w
  • MADRID-Casa de Velázquez
  • NICE-BU Lettres Arts Sci.Hum.
  • PARIS-Médiathèque MQB

OpenEdition vous propose de citer ce billet de la manière suivante :
Olivier Jacquot (27 mars 2020). Parution : Writing without words : alternative literacies in Mesoamerica and the Andes. Amoxcalli. Consulté le 21 juillet 2024 à l’adresse

Olivier Jacquot

Chargé de collections : manuscrits des fonds américains, Service des manuscrits ORientaux (SOR), département des Manuscrits (MSS), Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF)

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