On October 15, 1983, a young mother of six was murdered while walking across her village of Huitzilan de Serdán, Mexico, with her infant son and one of her daughters. This woman, Victoria Bonilla, was among more than one hundred villagers who perished in violence that broke out soon after the Mexican army chopped down a cornfield that had been planted on an unused cattle pasture by forty Nahuat villagers.
In this anthropological account, based on years of fieldwork in Huitzilan, James M. Taggart turns to Victoria's husband, Nacho Angel Hernández, to try to understand how a community based on respect and cooperation descended into horrific violence and fratricide. When the army chopped down the cornfield at Talcuaco, the war that broke out resulted in the complete breakdown of the social and moral order of the community.
At its heart, this is a tragic love story, chronicling Nacho's feelings for Victoria spanning their courtship, marriage, family life, and her death. Nacho delivered histestimonioto the author in Nahuat, making it one of the few autobiographical love stories told in an Amerindian language, and a very rare account of love among the indigenous people of Mesoamerica. There is almost nothing in the literature on how a man develops and changes his feelings for his wife over his lifetime. This study contributes to the anthropology of emotion by focusing on how the Nahuat attempt to express love through language and ritual.
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