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Traitor, Survivor, Icon: The Legacy of La Malinche

Traitor, Survivor, Icon: The Legacy of La Malinche

"Where art and historiography neatly coincide. This is the catalogue of a comprehensive exhibition devoted to La Malinche, the native woman whose services to the conquistadors in Mexico as translator, interpreter, negotiator, and guide were absolutely essential to their success. But unlike her Native American equivalents Pocahontas and Sacagawea, she remains a highly controversial figure even today, with many Latinos regarding her as a villainess and race traitor. However, it is worth remembering that La Malinche had in fact been enslaved by the Aztecs and thus had no particular reason to feel a sense of ethnic/cultural solidarity with them, nor any guilt for making herself indispensable to the Spanish invaders. The book unites the physical traces of her shadowy life with her changing depictions in the visual arts over the centuries  — a feast for the eyes, and food for thought."

Alan H.

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Author Victoria I. Lyall, Terezita Romo
Publisher Yale University Press
Publication Date 2022-03-01
Section Art / Latin America / Caribbean / All Staff Suggestions / Nonfiction Suggestions / Alan H.
Type New
Format Hardcover
ISBN 9780300258981

The first major visual and cultural exploration of the legacy of La Malinche, simultaneously reviled as a traitor to her people and hailed as the mother of Mexico

The first major visual and cultural exploration of the legacy of La Malinche, simultaneously reviled as a traitor to her people and hailed as the mother of Mexico

An enslaved Indigenous girl who became Hernán Cortés’s interpreter and cultural translator, Malinche stood at center stage in one of the most significant events of modern history. Linguistically gifted, she played a key role in the transactions, negotiations, and conflicts between the Spanish and the Indigenous populations of Mexico that shaped the course of global politics for centuries to come. As mother to Cortés’s firstborn son, she became the symbolic progenitor of a modern Mexican nation and a heroine to Chicana and Mexicana artists.

Traitor, Survivor, Icon is the first major publication to present a comprehensive visual exploration of Malinche’s enduring impact on communities living on both sides of the US-Mexico border. Five hundred years after her death, her image and legacy remain relevant to conversations around female empowerment, indigeneity, and national identity throughout the Americas. This lavish book establishes and examines her symbolic import and the ways in which artists, scholars, and activists through time have appropriated her image to interpret and express their own experiences and agendas from the 1500s through today.

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