An unprecedented reading of Mexican history through the lens of performance

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"A new and important analysis of the ways in which plays, festivals, pageants and political events have long exhibited public conformity while, at times, critiquing and challenging their own performance. It will be enthusiastically received by those who study performance, Latin America, and resistance movements."
---Diana Taylor, New York University Tlaxcala is unique among the states of Mexico. Because of its fierce independence during the pre-Columbian era (it was never conquered by the Aztecs) and its strategic alliance with the Spanish invaders in Cortez's conquest in the early sixteenth century, Tlaxcala has played a significant role in Mexican history. Performing Conquest examines the distinct Tlaxcalan identity that has evolved over the last five centuries and the way that performance---especially political speech---has been inextricably linked to its creation. The book focuses on theatrical performances, political events, texts that "perform" despite themselves, and state-sponsored performances designed to foment local and/or national identity. The theatrical strategies included the re-imagination of civic space, the combination of aural, oral, and visual means of communication to create meaning, and the blurring of the line between representation and reality, which made everyday citizens into "actors" in their spectacles. Performing Conquest shows not only that these strategies were deeply embedded cultural practices, learned from and developed within religious conversion plays, political entry ceremonies, festival displays, tragic hero dramas, and state-sponsored patriotic pageants, but also that they transformed at crucial historical moments in response to various wars, national cultural policies, and debt crises. Patricia A. Ybarra is Assistant Professor of Theater, Speech, and Dance at Brown University.

Patricia A. Ybarra is Assistant Professor of Theater, Speech, and Dance at Brown University.