Robertson Aztec 1

Professor Robertson’s book article: “Decolonizing Aztec Picture-Writing,” has just been published in Visual Culture of the Ancient Americas: Contemporary Perspectives, edited by Andrew Finegold and Ellen Hoobler (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, pp. 185-196 & 88).

Robertson Aztec 2

This study turns more than 250 years of conventional studies on their head by prioritizing the pictures that constitute the indigenous basis for “writing,” over the written down words added by Spanish colonizers: (1) pairing a Nahua riddle with a place-name sign, it shows how orality might conceivably have worked, engaging users in an interactive process; (2) comparing the workings of 16th c. Nahuatl diphrasisms, in which images worked in tandem with verbal language, it relocates Aztec picture-writing within a much larger language practice; (3) turning to Aztec metaphysics, it introduces James Maffie’s concepts of “energy-in-motion,” which can be used to explain not just what the pictures represent but what they are doing, and how they go about ordering, organizing, presenting and disclosing teotl, the “stuff” of reality.