May 14, 2005 Matthew Restall, "Mayas and Africans"

The Spanish conquest of Mexico would not have been possible without the
participation of native warriors and African slaves.  There were as many
Africans as Spaniards in Colonial Yucatan.  During three centuries of
Spanish colonial rule in Yucatan, the peninsula was home both to the native
Maya and to a growing African and Free-Colored population.  Only recently
have scholars started to study the colonial era Maya extensively using
source documents in Yucatec Mayan.  Historians have almost completely
ignored Afro-Yucatecans and how they interacted with both the Spanish and
the Maya.  Dr. Restall described some of the hurdles that scholars must
overcome to both find useful data on this neglected group and to tease
information from it.  He was able to document profound shifts in the place
of origin of Yucatecan Black population in the 18ty century, and challenged
some of the traditional notions of hostility between Maya and Africans
during the Caste Wars.

Matthew Restall was educated at Oxford and UCLA.  He is currently Professor
of Latin American History, Anthropology, and Women’s Studies and Co-Director
of Latin American Studies at the Pennsylvania State University.  He
specializes in colonial Yucatan and Mexico, Maya history, the Spanish
Conquest, and Africans in Spanish America.  Since 1995 he has published
thirty articles and essays and six books, including The Maya World
(Stanford, 1997), Maya Conquistador (Beacon, 1998), and Seven Myths of the
Spanish Conquest (Oxford, 2003).  He received NEH Fellowships for 1997-1998
and 2001-2002 and a Guggenheim Fellowship for 2003-2004 to write a history
of Afro-Yucatecans.  This year, Seven Myths will be released in Spanish and
Portuguese, and two new books will appear: an edited volume titled Beyond
Black and Red, and a co-edited volume, Mesoamerican Voices.

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