Campus Only Senior Thesis
Bachelor of Arts
Latin American Studies
Marina Perez de Mendiola
© 2015 Angie I. Aguilar
After the Mexican War of Independence (1810-1821) ending Spanish rule, Mexico formed a republic. By the 1880s there was ‘reformation’ in the Mexican church and the growth of ‘modernization’ in a caste based society governed by dictators. Amid all these changes, there was a growth of a nationalist ideology which sought to break free of Spanish roots in search of a new “Mexican” identity. As nationalism unfolded, there was a resurgence of some histories that became legends. I’ve noted a trend among legends with female protagonists, legends tend to portray women in a negative way. Two legends that have caught my attention emerge from the lives of two women from colonial Mexico. One is based on the life of Malinalli (Malintzin), a Nahuatl woman from sixteenth-century Mexico who at a young age was sold into slavery, but eventually became a talented interpreter, advisor and negotiator for Hernán Cortés during conquest. The other legend is about María Magdalena Dávalos y Orosco, a widowed woman from eighteenth-century Mexico who was able to gain control of her husband’s estate and manage many of his properties.
More often than not, I’ve found that the legends that transpired from the retelling of an account of past events women’s lives, exclude their accomplishments and emphasize their “deviant” tendencies. Through the use of oral histories, scholarly articles and texts relevant to Malintzin and María Magdalena’s circumstances, I will explore their legends to argue that they have a lot of valuable information to offer.
Aguilar, Angie I., "Not Just a Legend: The Gendered Conquest of a Spanish American Society" (2015). Scripps Senior Theses. 658.
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