Beyond Primitivism: Indigenous Religious Traditions and Modernity

By Jacob K. Olupona | Go to book overview

Chapter 7

Guidelines for the study of Mesoamerican religious traditions1

Alfredo López Austin


The Mesoamerican unit

Somewhere in what today constitutes Mexican territory, about 4,500 years ago - around the twenty-fifth century BCE - groups of people who were growers of corn and other domesticated species achieved such dependence on their crops that they gradually became sedentary. In this manner, they abandoned their ancient practices of seasonal migrations that alternated agriculture with hunting and fishing. The life of these initial sedentaries, alongside the transformations that change implies, gave birth to the Mesoamerican tradition. Thus, sedentarism gradually extended throughout vast areas, and with the passing of time Mesoamerica embraced southern Mexico, all of Guatemala, Belize and El Salvador, Western Honduras, the Pacific coast of Nicaragua, and north-western Costa Rica.

Insulated from extra-continental contact, Mesoamerica underwent a long process of evolution. Within four millennia it had developed certain forms of living, ranging from an initial type of egalitarian society that lived in simple agricultural villages, to powerful states with a high degree of political and social organization. Its ethnic composition was heterogeneous. Among the many peoples that belonged to this Mesoamerican cultural complex, some of the more well known are the Olmec, the Teotihuacan, the Mayan, the Zapotec, the Mixtec, the Mexica (or Aztec), and many others.

If we had to ask ourselves about the most notable characteristics of the ancient cultural complex, the Mesoamerican geography would have to be considered. Criss-crossed by many mountain ranges, this ecological diversity was one of the important factors of a process with paradoxical results: on the one hand, it produced a variety of cultural manifestations in Mesoamerican societies; on the other, it gave birth to a cultural unit common to all societies. In effect, the geographical diversity of Mesoamerica, added to the vast linguistic and ethnic differences of its inhabitants and to their distinct local and regional histories, crystallized, through several centuries, in varied cultural expressions. Among those who inhabited such contrasting environments, such as the high valleys of Central Mexico or southern Guatemala, the tropical rainforests, the pleasant valleys of Oaxaca, the northern arid plains and marine coasts, they differed considerably in their utilization of natural resources, in their social and political organizations, and in their artistic expressions. That said, diversity itself resulted in unity. The random orography and the climatic variety encouraged, from a very early time, productive specialization in micro environments, and, from then on, a constant interchange of products was encouraged. The interchange was, if not the only one, one of the principal forces in the interrelation among the agriculturists. The permanent contact produced an early common history that resulted

-118-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Beyond Primitivism: Indigenous Religious Traditions and Modernity
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 352

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.