Thèse : Confrontando imaginarios: Oralidad, pintura y escritura en Mexico colonial


  • Lagos, Cora Gabriela
  • Rabasa, Jose. Directeur


My dissertation examines the confrontation of pictographic and alphabetical writing systems in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Mesoamerica. In examining these writing systems I focus on the dynamics of power and violence in colonialist cultural impositions. These systems of inscription underlie fundamentally different ways of understanding the world. One of the main components in the colonization was the teaching of alphabetic writing which sought to re-educate and train the body and senses as well as to implement a new logic and semantics. To understand this attempt to reconstruct the colonized self I study pedagogical and calligraphic manuals, Christian rhetorics, and glosses by missionaries and native informants. These tests suggest that becoming literate does not consist of merely learning to use alphabetical characters, but also entails an interiorization of Western culture. This distinction enables me to differentiate texts that transcribe oral performances (Leyenda de los cinco soles, Popol Vuh, Cantares mexicanos) from written histories that transform native ways of thinking. However, learning the alphabet does not imply a complete cultural loss. Central to my investigation is the production of new subjectivities of non-Europeans who re-write themselves by negotiating a discursive space in the colony (the mestizo and Indian historians Fernando de Alva Ixtlilsochitl, Alvarado Tezozomoc and Diego Munoz Camargo, but also tlalcuilos whose pictographic forms are modified under European influences).

My dissertation also questions how the terms “orality”, “writing” and “image”/”painting” have been naturalized. These concepts are historically specific and value-laden. Evolutionary and classificatory writing theories (Walter Ong, Jack Goody, Joyce Marcus) set up alphabetic script as the most accomplished form of writing. One needs to go beyond these theories by studying alternative systems of inscription not contemplated by Western categories. Resistance to the imposition of writing and theorizations that de-stabilize the idea of the letter as the main element of communication/contact in colonial contexts will allow me to question the fetishization of alphabetic script (Jaques Derrida and Peter Wogan 1994). My work endeavors not only to continue this ongoing debate about classificatory-evolutionist studies, but also to explore the multiple ways in which the implementation of alphabetic writing affects the subject.

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OpenEdition vous propose de citer ce billet de la manière suivante :
Olivier Jacquot (22 mars 2023). Thèse : Confrontando imaginarios: Oralidad, pintura y escritura en Mexico colonial. Amoxcalli. Consulté le 24 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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