Tuesdays & Thursdays, 2:00 pm – 3:20 pm

Dr. Brianna Leavitt- Alcantara

We tend to imagine the Mexica (“Aztec”), Inkan, and Mayan empires as timeless ancient dynasties reigning for centuries over large areas of Latin America until they were conquered and wiped out by the Spanish, or in the case of the Maya, until their “mysterious” decline and collapse.

This course moves beyond such mythical images to explore the dynamic and complex expansion of these three indigenous Latin American empires and how they creatively built upon and adapted earlier imperial models in Mesoamerica and the Andes.

We will explore how and why the Mexican, Inkan, and Mayan empires employed diverse methods of conquest and colonization, how religion, culture, politics, and economics shaped imperial ideologies, societies, and systems of rule, and how imperial tensions and rivalries led powerful native kingdoms to ally with the Spanish. We will also consider how these imperial histories continued into the colonial period and beyond, how Spanish colonialism built directly upon the Mexica and Inca imperial systems and infrastructure, and how native peoples in the former Mexican, Inkan, and Mayan empires responded to and survived Spanish colonialism, significantly shaping colonial and modern Latin American societies.

This course is cross-listed with LAS 3192.