Anthropology 226:  Native Voices:  Mesoamerica and the Andes

Department of Anthropology, SUNY Geneseo

Spring 2013


Class Meetings:  Wednesday and Friday 11:30- 12:45 am Milne 105

Instructor:  Dr. James Aimers

Office:  Sturges Hall 13H

Office Hours:

Please visit me if you have any questions regarding the content or organization of the course, or for reasons related to your academic progress.  My office hours are:

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday 12:45- 1:45

You can also meet with me by e-mailing for an appointment 2-3 days in advance.

E-mail:  Questions I can answer in three sentences or so can be e- mailed, but please

speak to me for more complex questions and problems.  As a slow typist, I prefer long discussions to

long e-mails.  I read e-mail during regular hours on regular work days.  Allow 1-2 days for a response,

not including weekends and holidays.  Please include the ANTH 226 in the subject line and sign             your             email.

Office Phone: 245-5276 (I usually respond faster to email)


Course Overview

A comparative review of the sources and the social history of pre-Hispanic societies at the time of contact with Europeans and during the early colonial period.  Emphasis is on the institutions and ideologies and the variations in social, economic, and political patterns that developed in different areas and in different times.


Learning Outcomes

In this course students will demonstrate

·       familiarity with Maya, Aztec, and Inca societies just before European contact.

·       knowledge of the basic sequences and key debates about the conquest of these three advanced societies.

·       research skills relevant to the investigation of the characteristics of Aztec, Maya, and Inca society under colonial rule.

·       familiarity with important indigenous sources from before, during, and after contact with Europeans.



SUNY Geneseo will make reasonable accommodations for persons with documented physical, emotional or learning disabilities. Students should consult with the Director in the Office of Disability Services (Tabitha Buggie-Hunt, 105D Erwin, and their individual faculty regarding any needed accommodations as early as possible in the semester.


Required Books

Restall, Matthew

1998  Maya Conquistador.  Beacon Press, Boston.


Schwartz, Stuart, ed.

2000  Victors and the Vanquished:  Spanish and Nahua Views of the Conquest of Mexico. Bedford/St Martin’s, New York.


All readings that are not in the texts above will be available as Adobe Acrobat .pdf files in my Outbox. Access the outboxes through this link:

My Outbox is in the Anthropology folder.  If you have trouble with the Outbox, self-help can be found here: or contact CIT.




Value of Course Components

Weekly In-class reading tests                                                          25%

Class Participation (you will record this in class)                           10 %

Summary of Betanzo Chapters (500 words)                                   10 %

Annotated bibliography entry (500 words)                                     10%

Research project on an ethnohistorical text (1000 words)              15%

Midterm   (Weeks 1-7)                                                                    10 %

Final Exam (all course material)                                                     20%


Grading Scheme

Geneseo Undergraduate Bulletin (2011:38):   “Final grades are recorded as A, A- (excellent); B+, B, B- (very good); C+, C (satisfactory); C- (minimal competence); D (marginal); E (failure); F (failure in courses elected under the pass-fail option which are not completed successfully); P (pass in courses elected under the pass-fail option which are completed successfully; P is equivalent to a grade of C- or higher); S (satisfactory is equivalent to a grade of C- or higher); U (unsatisfactory); and W (withdrawn).“


A   =  94% +

A - =  90 -  93.99 %

B+ =  87 - 89.99 %

B   =  83 - 86.99 %

B - =  80 - 82.99 %

C+ =  77  - 79.99 %

C   =  73 - 76.99 %

C - =  68 - 72.99 %

D   =  58 - 67.99 %

E  = 0 - 57.99 %


See MyCourses -> Course Materials for a document that describes my grading criteria (e.g., what kind of work receives a grade of A in my classes).


Assignments, Attendance and Lateness

Regular attendance is the easiest way to ensure success on this course.  Please arrive on time.

Late assignments will be penalized 5% per day, including weekends.

Make-up tests and exams are available only under extraordinary circumstances, and will require medical or other documentation.



Annotated bibliography entry (maximum 500 words): You will write a summary of an article or chapter related to the subject matter of this course on the ANTH 226 part of the Geneseo wiki:

You should visit a reference librarian for assistance finding an appropriate work, which must be scholarly or peer-reviewed (not a website, magazine or newspaper article) and of substantial length (e.g., no book reviews).  The work you choose should not be from the syllabus.  The entry should summarize the work you selected with some critical commentary.   For example, what assumptions underlie the author’s ideas?  Are there areas that could have been researched more thoroughly?  What were the strengths of the work?  You will be asked to describe the entry in class.


Major Indigenous Ethnohistorical Sources of Latin America (maximum 1000 words):  Provide an overview of the structure and content of the work, and include a discussion of scholarly research and publication on it.  Try to assemble a very complete list of works relevant to the source.  I strongly recommend visiting librarian Kim Hoffman for assistance.


Summary of Betanzo Chapters:  See description in Week 7


Facebook-Free Zone

You may use your laptop to take notes using word processing software.  You are not permitted to access Facebook, other social networking sites, play games, etc. in my class.  I have adopted this rule because photos and moving images distract other students.

Academic Honesty

Students are urged to read the policies on Academic Honesty at:


As the policy notes, “Any one of the following constitutes evidence of plagiarism:

·       direct quotation without identifying punctuation and citation of source;

·       paraphrase of expression or thought without proper attribution;

·       unacknowledged dependence upon a source in plan, organization, or argument.”


I also consider reusing your own work from another class to be plagiarism.  I take academic honesty very seriously and I will follow up on instances of cheating and plagiarism to the fullest extent that the university allows.  If I believe the offense is very serious, I can—and will—recommend suspension or dismissal to the Student Conduct Board.


Topics and Readings

You are responsible for each week’s readings and you should be prepared to discuss them. __________________________________________________________________________________________

Week 1:  January 23 and 25: The Aztecs prior to contact

Wednesday:  Introduction to course, review of scholarly research, introduction to wiki, begin Aztecs.

Friday:  First quiz, (bring laptops), finish lecture on the Aztecs

Read Schwartz pp. 1-12 (Mexica Civilization and Society)

Read Schwartz pp. 29-39 (Forebodings and Omens)


Week 2:  January 30 and February 1:  The Maya Prior to Contact

·       Plagiarism quiz (in MyCourses) due by class time Friday Feb 1

Read Coe 2005 Chapter 8 pp. 204-209 (Maya Life on the Eve of Conquest)

Read Restall Chapter 1 pp. 3-28 (Conquests)

            Read Rice, Prudence M.

            2009            Time, History, and Worldview. In Maya Worldviews at Conquest, edited by Leslie G. Cecil and             Timothy W. Pugh, pp. 61-82. University Press of Colorado, Boulder. (MyCourses).


Week 3:  February 6 and 8:  Texts and their Contexts

·       Annotated bibliography reference due:  Post the title and complete reference in American Antiquity style to the Annotated bibliography section of the ANTH 226 wiki by class time Friday.


            Read Burkhart, Louise M.

            2007            Indigenous Literature from Colonial Mesoamerica. In The Legacy of Mesoamerica:  History             and Culture of a Native American Civilization, edited by Robert M. Carmack, Janine Gasco and             Gary H. Gossen, pp. 222-254. Prentice-Hall, Upper Saddle River NJ.

The Spanish at Conquest and Spanish Sources (Read Schwartz Preface and Chapter 1 pp.  12-20)

Aztec Sources (Read Schwartz Chapter 1 pp. 20-28)

Maya Sources (Read Restall Preface and Chapter 2 pp. 29-50:  Recontextualizing Calamity)

Inca Sources (Read Betanzos p. ix-xiv)


Week 4:  February 13 and 15:  The Inca Prior to Contact

Richardson, J. B.

            1994            The ultimate empire. In People of the Andes, pp. 150-165. Smithsonian, Washington.


Week 5:  February 20 and 22:  Conquest of the Aztec

Read Schwartz Chapters 2-7, pp. 40 – 213

Read Clendinnen, I.  1991 "Fierce and Unnatural Cruelty":  Cortes and the Conquest of

Mexico. Representations 33:65-100.


Week 6:  February 27 and March 1:  Conquest of the Maya

·       Annotated bibliographies du by class Wednesday, presentations begin.

            Read Restall Chapters 3-8, pp. 53-150


Week 7: March 6 and 8:  Conquest of the Inca

Read Betanzo Part 2 pp. 189-302 (Chapters I to XXIV) (PDF’s of these sections in Outbox). In 2011 students read and summarized part 1 of this book, which documents Inca life before conquest.  This year we will examine Part 2. Each student should prepare a short summary of the chapters assigned to them. What are the most important insights into cultural issues such as Inca mythology, religion, politics, social organization, gender, law, calendrics, warfare etc?  What do we learn about the conquest?  In class we will compare notes to and post the results of the intergroup collaboration in class to the wiki


Week 8: March 13 and 15:  The Aztecs Under Colonial Rule I

·       Midterm Wed March 13 covers week 1-7

Read Schwartz Chapter 8, pp. 214-243 (Aftermath:  Tradition and Transformation)

Read McCaa, R. 

1995 Spanish and Nahuatl Views on Smallpox and Demographic Catastrophe in Mexico. Journal of             Interdisciplinary History 23(3):387-431.


SPRING BREAK March 18-22


Week 9:  March 27 and 29:  The Aztecs Under Colonial Rule II

Read:  Arvey, M. C.

            1988            Women of ill-repute in the Florentine codex. In The role of gender in precolumbian art and architecture, edited by V. E. Miller, pp. 179-204. University Press of America, Lanham, MD.

Read: Sigal, P.

            2007            Queer Nahuatl: Sahagún’s Faggots and Sodomites, Lesbians and Hermaphrodites. Ethnohistory 54(1):9-34.


Week 10:  April 3 and 5

The Maya Under Colonial Rule Part I

Read Restall Chapter 9-10, pp. 151 – 178

Read  Restall  1997 The Maya World Chapters 7 (Class) and 8 (Daily Life), pp. 87-109.


Week 11:  April 10 and 12: The Maya under Colonial Rule Part II

Read  Restall  1997 The Maya World  Chapters 10 (Gender), 11 (Sexuality), 12

(Religion), pp. 121-165.


Week 12: April 17 (no class Friday, I am in Toledo Ohio) The Maya under Colonial Rule Part III.

Read Pilcher, Jeffrey

2006  The Columbian Exchange.  In Food and World History, pp. 19-26.   Routledge, New York.


Week 13:  April 24 and 26:  The Inca Under Colonial Rule

Read:  von der Heydt-Coca, M.  1999  When Worlds Collide: The Incorporation of The

Andean World into the Emerging World-Economy in the Colonial Period.

Dialectical Anthropology 24(1):1-43.



Week 14:  May 1 and 3:  The descendants of the Aztecs, Maya, and Inca:  Indigenous Life Today. 

            Read: Gossen, Gary H..

            2007            The Mayan Zapatista Movement. In The Legacy of Mesoamerica:  History and Culture of a             Native American Civilization, edited by Robert M. Carmack, Janine Gasco and Gary H. Gossen,             pp. 379-406. Prentice-Hall, Upper Saddle River NJ.

Read: Hill, M. D. 2007            Contesting Patrimony: Cusco's Mystical Tourist Industry and the Politics

of Incanismo. Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology 72(4):433-460.


Final Exam: Friday May 10 2013, 12- 3 pm in regular room.