Nahua Ethnicity

James M. Taggert

in The Oxford Handbook of the Aztecs

Published in print January 2017 | ISBN: 9780199341962
Published online December 2016 | e-ISBN: 9780190634179 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Nahua Ethnicity

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  • Archaeology by Region
  • Race and Ethnicity


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Ethnicity is the classification of self and others that develops among groups occupying the same region and sometimes competing for the same scarce resources. Scholars of the ancient as well as contemporary Nahuas have found evidence of ethnicity in material artifacts, stone monuments, pictorial manuscripts, prose manuscripts created under the direction of the Spanish friars, Colonial-period wills, notarized documents, court petitions, testimony, parish records, and contemporary ethnographic observations. Implicit or sometimes explicit in their investigations is the question of how Nahua ethnicity changed after the fall of the Aztec Empire in 1521. There is little doubt that the Nahua concepts of ethnicity changed in the centuries following the Spanish Conquest, but there is also considerable evidence that the Nahuas did not adopt and in some cases actively resisted the Spanish concept of ethnicity hinged to race.

Keywords: Nahua; ethnicity; race; Aztec Empire; Spanish Conquest; interethnic relations; descent; kinship

Article.  4821 words. 

Subjects: Archaeology by Region ; Race and Ethnicity

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