New article in The Americas

John Schwaller's picture

Justyna Olko just published a new article in The Americas. "Remote Stories, Local Meanings: Knowledge Transfer and Acculturation Strategies in Nahua Sociocultural History"


The abstract follows:

In this paper I carry out a microphilological study of a section of the Codex Indianorum 7, a colonial devotional manuscript in Nahuatl preserved in the John Carter Brown Library. It contains wisdom teachings derived from the biblical Book of Tobit and directed to both parents and their children. I argue that this hitherto unstudied text reveals the Native author's liberty to creatively mold and adapt a culturally remote European prototype into the Native genre of oratorical art—the huehuehtlahtolli, or “words of the elders.” The author also skillfully embedded and contextualized the content of the biblical instruction in local cultural meanings understandable and valid to an Indigenous audience. As an example of cross-cultural translation and colonial textual production, this source provides new insights into Native forms of agency, intellectual autonomy, and acculturation strategies reflected in creative dialogues with European traditions, developed and maintained despite the seemingly substitutive Christianization policies imposed on Indigenous people in the sixteenth century.