La Malinche

I found it interesting that we were assigned to read an essay about La Malinche and malinchismo.   During the past couple of years, I had heard plenty about La Malinche and how she betrayed her people to help Cortes defeat the Aztecs.  She was a young girl sold into slavery who was then given to Cortes as a translater.  She later became his mistress as well.  All I read in textbooks and hear from professors is that malinchismo is a bad thing, that to love things from other countries is the betray the Mexican way of life.  I accepted this premise without looking into it any deeper.  If it was in the textbooks, then it was fact, right?

Well, I don’t know anymore.  Last semester I read  a book published about a year ago, called Down and Delirious in Mexico City: The Aztec Metropolis in the Twenty First Century.  The author, Daniel Hernandez, is a journalist from Los Angeles who finds himself navigating the city in an attempt to reconnect with his roots.  Anyway, in chapter one, he is on his first visit to Mexico City and his friend is giving him a tour around town.  They stop in front of a house that once belonged to Cortes and La Malinche.  Hernandez sighs in disappointment, as if to express his disappointment in Malinche’s actions, hoping that he has done his duty by sharing in the betrayal she committed.  His friend gives him a funny look and tells him to get over the conquista.  To him, Malinche was beautiful and smart and amazing.  What happened between Malinche and Cortes was not betrayal, it was simply mestizaje taking its course.

At first I did not know what to think about this.  To me, it would just seem so strange that a Mexican would say things like that about a woman who was blamed for so much human suffering.  But a lot of the articles I have read about the Malinche were written a while ago, maybe twenty years ago.  With all the progress and technological advances occurring in the world, is it possible that Mexico has opened up to other influences?  Or was this one man the exception to the rule?  What if malinchismo is really mestizaje, as this man suggested?  This brings a lot of questions that I don’t have answers to now, but I will probably think about them while abroad as well as while I’m preparing to travel.

Going back to the book I previously mentioned, a few of the chapters talked about fashion, emos, punks, the music scene.  All these chapters mentioned that the youth he met had taken something “American” and changed it in a way that it would have a heavy Mexican influence.  Fashion followed what was popular in the States and in Europe, but the designers used shapes and colors reminiscent of Aztec and Maya culture, for example.  Is this blend of culture malinchismo or in its own way, is it a continued mestizaje?

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1 Response to La Malinche

  1. Natalie says:

    Wow, when I’ve studied the story of La Malinche before, I’ve always recognized the birth of mestizaje, but I’d never considered that perhaps malinchismo IS mestizaje. I think that part of the reason that malinchismo is such a popular term is because of the hard feelings still harbored towards the Conquest. Perhaps replacing malinchismo with mestizaje makes it easier to accept one’s mixed heritage.

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