Ancient Mexico: Early American Anthropology's Encounter

March 29, 2005 - 4:30 pm

Jaime Labastida, Essayist, Journalist, and Poet, President of Siglo Veintiuno Publishing House

This panel reflects upon the controversial influence of American anthropologists exploring central Mexico at the close of the 19th century. Mexican writer, editor and poet, Jaime Labastida, will discuss México Antiguo, his 2004 edited collection of essays by Lewis H. Morgan and Adolph F. Bandelier translated into Spanish for the first time. These writings are based upon their studies and archaeological research of the peoples of ancient Mexico. This panel will discuss what these anthropological writings reveal about American perceptions of ancient societies within Mexico, especially referring to the Aztec Society, and why these viewpoints remain relevant today.

The México Antiguo collection is the first publication of Morgan’s and Bandelier’s controversial writings translated into Spanish. Lewis Henry Morgan (1818-1881) of Aurora, New York is best known for his work Ancient Society. While his theories of linear evolution are widely discredited today, Morgan is still recognized as an influential anthropologist of the 19th Century, influencing the likes of Marx and Engels with his materialist approach in understanding society. Bandelier (1840-1914) and Morgan maintained a close friendship and collaboration in several research endeavors. Bandelier, a lawyer by trade and admirer of the work of Alexander Von Humboldt, dedicated himself to field of archaeology, studying indigenous populations of southwest America and northern Mexico. His expedition into central Mexico, sponsored by Morgan, led to his writings on the Aztec Civilization included in this edited collection.