Catalogue


Brutality and benevolence : human ethology, culture, and the birth of Mexico /
Abel A. Alves.
imprint
Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 1996.
description
247 p.
ISBN
031329982X (alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 1996.
isbn
031329982X (alk. paper)
catalogue key
758852
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1997-04-01:
With examples from primatology, Alves describes 16th-century Spaniards and Aztecs as culturally determined biological animals, a definition Montezuma II and Cortes would have rejected. Alves, who admires evolutionary anthropology, hopes historians trained in primatology will strive to distinguish between universal biological traits and learned activities. As influences on his views, he acknowledges Edward O. Wilson's Sociobiology (CH, Nov'75), Irenaus Eibl-Eibesfeldt's Human Ethology (CH, Dec'89), and Jane Goodall's publications on chimpanzees. A goal for his first book is "establishing a new way to approach world history." Application of behavioral science is weak, or absent, in the treatment of architecture, because chimpanzees build neither temples nor churches. The discussion of Spanish colonial law lacks a firm grasp of fundamentals. Although citations to manuscript sources indicate an acquaintance with archives, information from early accounts of the conquest and recent scholarship will interest researchers and faculty. Other readers can find simpler renditions in The Broken Spears: The Aztec Account of the Conquest of Mexico, ed. by Miguel Leon-Portilla (1962), and Charles Gibson's Spain in America (CH, May'67). Graduate, faculty. D. M. Flusche Eastern Michigan University
Reviews
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, April 1997
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Summaries
Long Description
The 16th-century conquest of Mexico and its effects are best understood as cultural manifestations of animal behavior patterns which humans share with other primates. While Nahuas and Spaniards can be distinguished on the basis of learned cultural differences, such differences only exaggerated particular expressions of the universal behavioral patterns they shared. Brutality and benevolence were used in the same way by both to establish hierarchy and cultural bonding. After the conquest, a new Mexican synthesis could be constructed because of these commonalities. Alves explores the formation of that synthesis by examining such aspects of material culture as food, clothing, and shelter--especially as they manifest such universal primate tendencies as hierarchy, reciprocity, benevolence, brutality, xenophobia, curiosity, and territoriality. Alves proposes that humans are historically best understood by using current advances in the fields of primatology and ethology. This groundbreaking book will be of great interest to Latin Americanists, historians, and anthropologists.
Long Description
The 16th-century conquest of Mexico and its effects are best understood as cultural manifestations of animal behavior patterns which humans share with other primates. While Nahuas and Spaniards can be distinguished on the basis of learned cultural differences, such differences only exaggerated particular expressions of the universal behavioral patterns they shared. Brutality and benevolence were used in the same way by both to establish hierarchy and cultural bonding. After the conquest, a new Mexican synthesis could be constructed because of these commonalities. Alves explores the formation of that synthesis by examining such aspects of material culture as food, clothing, and shelterespecially as they manifest such universal primate tendencies as hierarchy, reciprocity, benevolence, brutality, xenophobia, curiosity, and territoriality. Alves proposes that humans are historically best understood by using current advances in the fields of primatology and ethology. This groundbreaking book will be of great interest to Latin Americanists, historians, and anthropologists.
Unpaid Annotation
The Spanish conquest of Mexico is examined from the entirely new perspective of human animal behavior, or human ethology. Aspects of material culture like food, clothing, and shelter are explored as they relate to species-specific tendencies, including benevolence, brutality, xenophobia, curiosity, hierarchy, reciprocity, and territoriality.
Table of Contents
Preface
Introduction Spanish Culture Aztec Culture Coalitions
An Ethological Account of a Coup The Structures of Material Life
Clothing, Shelter, and Community in Sixteenth Century Mexico Food
Dominance and Benevolence in Colonial New Spain The Pursuit of Justice The Hospital
The Right to Distribute Favor Gender and the Creation of Mexico A Question of Methodology
Bibliographical Essay
Index
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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