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Architecture of Thought$
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Andrzej Piotrowski

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780816673049

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816673049.001.0001

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Colonization and Symbolic Realityin Mesoamerica

Colonization and Symbolic Realityin Mesoamerica

(p.33) 2 Colonization and Symbolic Realityin Mesoamerica
Architecture of Thought

Andrzej Piotrowski

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter discusses the notion of religious syncretism in Mesoamerica. It shows that the hybrid character of religious practices in the Americas eluded not only the Spaniards but also later knowledge of these events. Syncretism, as a way of thinking, becomes symptomatic here of cultural interactions that operated on a subconscious level, sheltered by architecture and the arts. The colonizers attempted to exploit what they considered to be the language of indigenous forms, but actually limited their engagement only to what they could control. Although the Spaniards did not intend to admit pagan imports into their teachings, architecture, and art, their narrow-mindedness and arrogance prompted them to dismiss as irrelevant anything that was not explicitly figurative or message-like. At the same time, complexity, ambiguity, and contradictions were inherently meaningful in earlier Mesoamerica. The Spanish system of symbolic communication and the pre-Hispanic modality of evocative thought have coexisted, operating on different levels, never intersecting theologically but frequently occupying the same material environments.

Keywords:   religious syncretism, Mesoamerica, religious practices, Spaniards, architecture, arts, symbolic communication

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