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Some Kinds of Narration: The Problem of Plurality in Teotihuacan Walking Scenes

Trent Barnes, PLAS Postdoctoral Research Associate and Lecturer, Princeton University

Wed, 4/20 · 12:00 pm1:20 pm · 3rd Floor Atrium, Aaron Burr

Program in Latin American Studies

Scenes of walking humans, animals, and deities were the most common subject matter of the pictorial arts of Teotihuacan, Mexico, the largest city of Indigenous American antiquity.  Earlier comments on the walking scenes—which to date have not been treated as a coherent genre—have understood images of human walkers as depictions of groups of individuals acting in a single moment, an interpretation that has fostered secondary readings of the structure of Teotihuacan governance.  Namely, the purportedly consular nature of these scenes has served as evidence for the view that this city was remarkably non-hierarchical, and perhaps even proto-democratic, among the pre-contact city-states of Mesoamerica.  This talk argues that the plurality of both the depicted personages and of the temporal instant in which they act are far more dialectical and ambiguous than previous scholarship has allowed.

TRENT BARNES (Ph.D., Harvard University). Barnes is a scholar of the Indigenous Americas, that specializes in the art and architectural history of the ancient Central Mexican and Maya cultures. His first book project, Emptiness and the Production of Bodies in the Architecture of Teotihuacan, Mexico, comprises the first architectural history of the ceremonial center of the largest city of American antiquity. He has conducted fieldwork on five continents and lived or traveled in Latin America for four years, with extended or repeated visits to Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Colombia, Cuba, and the Philippines. His research has been supported by Dumbarton Oaks, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and several institutes of Harvard, including the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, the Asia Center, and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Barnes will assume an appointment as Assistant Professor of Art History at the University of Texas at Arlington in the fall of 2022.

This lecture is being offered in-person for Princeton University ID holders only. Boxed lunches will be provided. Registration is required to attend.

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