A new book by Dr. Amos Megged of the Department of General History at the University of Haifa discusses indigenous social memory in colonial Mexico, suggests: Development of alphabetic writing systems undermined indigenous social memory
Stone monuments, oral traditions, pictorial manuscripts and alphabetic texts are intriguing sources that have provided a wealth of material for Dr. Amos Megged's new book, Social Memory in Ancient and Colonial Mesoamerica. This scholarly work examines a most central subject matter in the study of colonial Mesoamerica: indigenous social memory. This region of Southern North America was occupied during the pre-Columbian era by a variety of peoples with common cultural elements. Megged provides monumental insight of the indigenous social memory of these peoples.
Dr. Megged, of the Department of General History at the University of Haifa, based his research on the sources that were produced before and after the Spanish conquest of the early sixteenth century. A notable point that he makes is that the indigenous social memory of the peoples of Mesoamerica has been maintained and retrievable thanks to the writing systems that it developed. However, with the transition from pictorial to alphabetic writing systems during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, this social memory has been severely undermined.
The unique social memory that the peoples of Mesoamerica developed is described based on two forms of remembrance, which Megged refers to as "subtext" and "supratext". The subtext in indigenous social memory is the social-collective remembrance that is formed by means of the tie between sacred sites and the rituals that were associated with them. This part of his discussion provides a riveting study of the society's activities relating to water sources, ritual offerings, commemoration of the dead, penitence, boundary marking, and more. The supratext is that part of the Mesoamerican society's memory that defines ethnic and political fragmentation in its rich social history.
Dr. Amos Megged provides a new and bold approach to the topic of indigenous social memory, which is currently a hot topic for researchers in Europe and the Americas studying in various relevant disciplines - history, art history, anthropology, religion, and more.
Amir Gilat, Ph.D.
Communication and Media Relations
University of Haifa