restricted access From Scenarios to Networks: Performing the Intercultural in Colonial Mexico

In the summer of 1566, Martín Cortés, the son of Hernán Cortés, was arrested in Mexico City. He and some of his friends were accused of conspiring against Philip II . During the interrogations that followed, a masquerade organized by a young man named Alonso de Avila was used as evidence to incriminate him in the insurrection. Avila's masquerade included twenty-four horsemen masked as Indians and was a reenactment of the first encounter between Hernán Cortés and Motezuma. The masquerade was an intercultural scenario that revealed a complex grid of relational patterns and intersections. By carefully reframing certain objects like feathers and mugs within the elements of a traditional indigenous mitote or dance, Avila managed to reassemble some of the human and economic vectors that supported the viceroyalty of New Spain. Taking its cue from the work of Diana Taylor and Bruno Latour, this essay argues that we need to read scenarios as dynamic nodes in which social networks can be retraced, and that such an approach gives us access to a better philosophical understanding of the ways in which performance actualizes the emergence of new cultural identities.