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maya

Sexuality in Prehispanic Maya and Aztec Societies: Beyond Heteronormativity

Lecture: Other UCB Archaeology | September 28 | 5:30-7 p.m. |  Badè Museum Gallery


1798 Scenic Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

Rosemary Joyce, Professor, Anthropology, UC Berkeley

Badè Museum, Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry


The indigenous societies of Central America presented challenges of understanding and interpretation for Spanish colonizers in the 16th century, concerned to spread the Catholic religion. Early Spanish accounts, and pictorial manuscripts and indigenous language texts written using the introduced Latin alphabet, described a conceptual universe in which sex was not a fixed, dichotomous essence. This philosophy of human development, embedded as it was in religious practices, was replaced in the process of colonization by a hybrid creation that conformed better to European notions, including expressions of abhorrence of same sex relations. But the sixteenth century texts are open to readings that clearly demonstrate that indigenous philosophies of personhood supported regimes of sexual activity that included same sex relations, and in certain circumstances even celebrated these. Building on the rich texts from the moment of cultural translation, this talk looks back at the prehispanic Maya and Aztec to identify traces of these sexualities.

Reception will follow.


bade@psr.edu