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Impact of Spanish Conquistadores on Modern Mexico

By Gail Hairston

(Oct. 22,  2015) — A new assessment of the lasting impact of Hernán Cortés and the Spanish Empire’s conquest of the Aztec Empire will be discussed at “New Perspectives on Spanish Conquest and Empire: From the 16th to the 21st Centuries.” The event begins at 3:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 23, in the Great Hall of the Margaret King Library at the University of Kentucky.

The event also kicks off the King Library’s November exhibition of singular photographs of Steve Raymer and event presenter Kathleen Myers. As the name suggests, the exhibition, “In the Shadow of Cortés: From Veracruz to Mexico City,” is a modern pictorial tour of the route Cortés marched from the sea to doomed Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec Empire.

The discussion begins at 3:30 p.m. with University of Virginia associate professor of Spanish Ricardo Padrón’s presentation “The Afterlife of the Conquest: From Mexico to the South Sea.” Padrón will discuss the powerful impact of Cortés' expedition on future Spanish explorations to the South Sea from the Pacific shores of Mexico. 

Padrón’s presentation will be followed by Indiana University professor of Spanish and Portuguese Kathleen Myers’ discussion “Who Gets to Talk? 21st Century Conquest Narratives and Sites of Memory.” What she describes as the “conquest narrative” -- the distillation of more than 100 ethnographic interviews of Mexicans from every walk of life -- has evolved to become an integral part of modern Mexico’s culture and politics. Even today, for those living along the Ruta de Cortés issues of cultural identity and social equity have roots in this conquest narrative.

Myers authored the exhibit accompanying photos by former National Geographic staff photographer and senior editor and IU photojournalism professor, Steve Raymer.  “In the Shadow of Cortés” will be on exhibit at the King Library through November 30.

The event is sponsored by the UK College of Arts and Sciences and its Latin American, Caribbean, and Latino Studies program and Department of Hispanic Studies.