Paper Matters: Cultural Change in Post-Conquest Mexico

Author(s): Barbara Mundy

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "Archaeology and Material Culture of the Spanish Invasion of Mesoamerica and Forging of New Spain" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

Paper-making was an indigenous technology of great historical depth; on the eve of Conquest, thousands of reams of paper were brought into the imperial capital of Tenochtitlan, where it was used for a host of bureaucratic and ritual purposes. Yet a generation or two after the conquest, indigenous scribes were using costly imported European paper with frequency. European paper can be thought of as a disruptive agent, upsetting indigenous practices of paper production and use. Like many technologies, paper was one interlocked element of a larger technological bundle that included inks, pens, sizing, and practices of writing, drawing, and painting--the change in one element occasioned changes or modifications in all others. Despite its importance, paper has attracted little attention as in discussions of conquest and cultural change. In this talk, through a close examination of the bundled technology of which paper was a part, I will show how and when "conquest" and "invasion" registered in the material world, and when it did not, as a way of arriving at a better model of the impact of the marquee historical events of 1519-21 in the lives of things, and relatedly, on people.

Cite this Record

Paper Matters: Cultural Change in Post-Conquest Mexico. Barbara Mundy. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 450580)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -107.271; min lat: 12.383 ; max long: -86.353; max lat: 23.08 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 24980