“And Moctezuma became angry when we left Mexico...”: Nahua Migrations to Eastern Guerrero, Contested Landscapes, and Place-Making as Represented in the Lienzos de Chiepetlan


ACLS Fellowship Program




This project studies the creation of indigenous “títulos primordiales,” a type of documentation developed during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in colonial Mexico that told an archaized narrative of the origins of a community. Using the Lienzos de Chiepetlan, six large-format painted documents from the Nahua community of Chiepetlan, Guerrero, Mexico, it addresses how local Nahua groups remembered and represented their histories to two distinct audiences: local villagers and Spanish authorities. This corpus of local documents, which Nahua communities used to assert their legal claim to land and defend local agency, provides an alternative interpretation of the past that contests official metanarratives promoted by either the Aztec Empire or the Spanish colonial regime. This project approaches these documents in a way that highlights indigenous intentionality and consciousness, place-making as a social practice, historical memory, and the constant becoming of the indigenous communities.