Lecture 5. Making Mexico City: A Colonial Capital in the Early Modern World

This lecture focuses on two cities, Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Mexica Empire, and Mexico City, the capital of New Spain. Because Mexico City was built upon and drew sustenance from the Mexica capital, the lecture addresses both urban space and colonial projects in early modernity. At issue are two questions: (1) how were urban capitals in the Americas organized as physical spaces, both before and after colonization; and (2) how does colonization shape what we can know about the past? The temporal span of this lecture runs from the early 16th century to the early 18th century. The interpretations presented highlights recent scholarship, explicitly calling attention to the ways in which pictorial images and objects, archaeological excavation, and archival documents open onto urban histories. This lecture therefore intertwines consideration of spatial practices, colonial histories, and the interpretive work of modern scholarship.

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Lecture Notes