M.A. (Ilona) Heijnen MA

Telephone number: +31 (0)71 527 2727
E-Mail: m.a.heijnen@arch.leidenuniv.nl
Faculty / Department: Faculteit Archeologie, Archaeological Heritage, Heritage of Indigenous Peoples
Office Address: Van Steenis gebouw
Einsteinweg 2
2333 CC Leiden
Room number FLEX


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One of the most continuous and intense forms of cultural interaction may be observed in Middle America where the Spanish conquest (1519/21) has led to a complex “hybridization” between the indigenous cultures and Europe during almost 500 years. The research of Ilona Heijnen will concentrate on one of the most enigmatic processes and aspects of this interaction that was not imposed by the (well-studied) efforts of conversion to Christianity; the introduction and use of symbols of European astrology. The pre-colonial Mesoamerican prophetic calendar and its divinatory system met a European system, both expressions of the perception and interpretation of time, and its social implications (e.g. cultural memory and identity). A tangible result of the interaction of these two divinatory systems in the colonial period is the translated Spanish astrological almanac (reportorio) into Nahuatl.

This project will study a key document from the Tropenmuseum Amsterdam (ms 3523-2) as well as researching European astrological elements in divinations in present Nahua communities. By combining philological, historical and anthropological research stretching from colonial times to the present, light will be shed on the dynamics of cultural interaction, specifically of time-related concepts and practices as well as the employment of foreign symbols introduced into a new cultural environment with emphasis on diviners as active agents enabling this process.

Last Modified: 01-02-2016