As the driving force in early European expansionism, Spain was concerned not only with the political and economic subordination of the New World native but also with the need to possess his soul. In
this book, Viviana Díaz Balsera tells the story of this zealous spiritual endeavor during its first one hundred years in Central Mexico and of how it transformed the European self and the
indigenous other in ways sometimes unforeseen for both.
In this excellent book, Viviana Diaz Balsera . . . [reveals] new insights into the friars' interactions with native Nahua cultures.
International Bulletin of Missionary Research
The Pyramid under the Cross looks at the epic project of Christianization as well as the limits of the Spanish spiritual colonizers' power
to accomplish it. The book focuses on activities of Franciscan missionaries who, as the first religious order to arrive, occupied the most important political and social centers in the Valley of
Mexico and set the strategies of evangelization that others would follow. One such activity, the Nahua theater of evangelization, is represented as an exemplary case of the inevitable cultural
negotiation involved in the missionary process. The author explores not only the imposition of a Eurocentric worldview upon the Nahua but also the hybridization of this view as the spiritual colonizer
attempted to encompass a new non-Western constituency and the latter interpreted Christianity according to its own cultural paradigms.
The book treats a wide range of textsthe Historia
eclesiástica indiana, the Confessionario Mayor, the Coloquios de los Doce, and moreboth by renowned Franciscan figures such as Gerónimo de Mendieta, Alonso de Molina, Bernardino de
Sahagún, and by Nahua grammarians Antonio Valeriano de Azcapotzalco, Andrés Leonardo de Tlatelolco, and others. Díaz Balsera engages the cultural constraints of all the actors in the
episodes she relates in order to show how the exchange between them resulted in the appropriation and/or alteration of the Spanish discourses of spiritual dominationsometimes even in their
breakdownand how it brought about the emergence of Nahua Christian subjects that would never fully leave behind their ancient ways of relating to the gods.
The Pyramid under the Cross
will be of interest to readers in the areas of Hispanic literatures, history, religion, anthropology, Latin American and cultural studies, and to those working in the field of colonial studies.