Codex Mendoza and Other Pieces of Mexican History

2021, MHz Curationist
colonialism, creative commons, digital, Indigenous, manuscripts, Mexican History, open access, public domain
About This Project

Date: April 16th, 2021 to April 30th, 2021
Partner: MHz Curationist
Sponsors: Faculty of Information 
Location: Temporary link:
Project Members: Magali Delgado
The Aztecs were among the greatest prehispanic cultures. In the year 1324, they founded Tenochtitlán, the city that later became the capital of the Aztec empire. In 1519, Spanish colonizers came to Tenochtitlán and, by 1521, submitted the population to the Spanish crown.  Twenty years later, Antonio de Mendoza, viceroy of the New Spain, commissioned Mexican Indigenous artists to create a manuscript that informed Carlos V, king of Spain, about the history of the new colony. The manuscript described the founding of Tenochtitlán and the extension of the Aztec territory. It also listed the tributes paid to the empire and aspects of the daily life of Aztec citizens. Carlos V never received The Codex Mendoza. Pirates stole it on the journey to Spain, and it was not until 1831 that scholars discovered it. Today, the Codex Mendoza is part of the Bodleian Libraries collection in Oxford, United Kingdom.

Congruently with the MHz Curationist’s mandate, the contents of this project will collaborate with a broader movement of inclusive content creation by individuals of diverse backgrounds. This project uses the Codex Mendoza as the source of a narrative path that, through various artistic representations, describes the evolution of Mexican traditions and perspectives from pre-colonial times to the present. The Day of the Dead, the Virgin of Guadalupe, the Aztec visions of war, death, and the afterlife are some ideas that are present in this work.

The project consists of a bilingual Essay Feature, a bilingual Interview Feature, and a Digital Collection. The Essay Feature is the main element of the group, it contains the narrative path described above divided into 5 subsections. The Interview features a conversation between me and Dr. María Teresa Rodríguez, an anthropologist with extensive knowledge about the rituals and traditions of modern Mexican indigenous groups. The digital collection displays photographs of emblematic buildings of Mexico City dating from colonial times. According to the requirements of MHz Curationist, all the digital objects of this project are in the Public Domain or under a Creative Commons license.

In October of 2020, I chose to partner with MHz Curationist. From October to November of 2020, I explored many possible topics for this work. In December 2020, MHz Curationist and Professor Agnieszka Chalas approved my project proposal. The research stage of the project was extensive and complex. In February 2021 I started writing the contents of the Essay Feature. In March 2021, I curated the Digital Collection and conducted the interview. Today, the Essay Feature and the Digital Collection are in the last steps of copy edition and are expected to be online by April 16th, 2021. The Interview Feature is expected to be launched by April 30th, 2021 along with Spanish versions of both features.

I want to thank Virginia Poundstone and Carla Amaya from MHz Curationist for their support and hard work to make this project a reality. Very special thanks to Garret Graddy-Lovelace for her kind encouragement, motivation, and advice through all the stages of this journey. To my friend Zihan Xu for providing me with the seed idea for this project when I was stuck picking a topic. To my Professor Dr. Agnieszka Chalas for providing me with the necessary knowledge and resources to complete this project. Finally, I would like to thank my family and friends for their love and support in the difficult times of this process.