David Tavárez Professor of Anthropology
Born and raised in Ciudad Juárez, David is a first-generation college graduate whose work addresses the history, language, and religion of Indigenous communities in Latin America. He focuses on colonial Nahua and Zapotec texts, ritual, colonial Christianities and idolatry, Indigenous intellectuals, and Mesoamerican calendars. David teaches courses on linguistic anthropology, language and culture, Mesoamerica, and the Andes, often as cross-lists with LALS, American Studies, International Studies, and Media Studies. Besides over 40 peer-reviewed articles and chapters, he is the author of The Invisible War (Stanford, 2011; Spanish translation, 2012), editor of Words and Worlds Turned Around (Colorado, 2017), and co-author of Painted Words (Dumbarton Oaks, 2017), and Chimalpahin's Conquest (Stanford, 2010). David's research has been supported by the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Science Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, and the Hewlett Foundation. He has taught at CIESAS, Bard, and UNAM, and served as peer reviewer for 27 scholarly journals, 15 university presses, and science and humanities councils in the US, Chile and Poland. Nonetheless, his daughter knows far more than him about dinosaurs.
- BA, Harvard College; MA, PhD, University of Chicago
- At Vassar since 2003
Research and Academic Interests
Departments and Programs
- Fall 2018: ANTH 150 Linguistics and Anthropology
- Fall 2018: ANTH/LALS/INTL 250 Language, Empires, and Nations
- 2017 Words and Worlds Turned Around: Indigenous Christianities in Colonial Latin America (editor). Boulder: University of Colorado Press.
- 2017 (with Elizabeth Hill Boone and Louise Burkhart). Painted Words: Nahua Catholicism, Politics, and Memory in the Atzaqualco Pictorial Catechism. Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks.
- 2011 The Invisible War: Indigenous Devotions, Discipline, and Dissent in Colonial Mexico. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Paperback edition, 2013. Spanish-language revised edition, 2012: Las guerras invisibles. Oaxaca City: UABJO, COLMICH, CIESAS, UAM.
- 2010 (with Susan Schroeder, Anne Cruz, and Cristián Roa). Chimalpahin’s Conquest: A Nahua Historian’s Rewriting of Francisco López de Gómara’s La conquista de México. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Spanish translation, 2012: Chimalpáhin y La Conquista de México. Mexico City: UNAM.
REPRESENTATIVE ARTICLES AND CHAPTERS
- 2017 "Reframing Idolatry in Zapotec: Dominican Translations of the Christian Doctrine in Sixteenth-Century Oaxaca." In Trust and Proof: Translators in Renaissance Print Culture, ed. Andrea Rizzi, 164-181. Leiden: Brill.
- 2014 ”Ritual Language.” In The Cambridge Handbook of Linguistic Anthropology, ed. N. J. Enfield, Paul Kockelman, and Jack Sidnell, 496-516. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- 2013 “Nahua Intellectuals, Franciscan Scholars, and the devotio moderna in Colonial Mexico.” The Americas 70 (2): 203-235.
- 2010 “Zapotec Time, Alphabetic Writing and the Public Sphere.” Ethnohistory 57 (1):73-85.
- 2009 “Legally Indian: Inquisitorial Readings of Indigenous Identities in New Spain.” In Imperial Subjects: Race and Identity in Colonial Latin America, ed. Andrew B. Fisher and Matthew O’Hara, 81-100. Durham: Duke University Press.
- 2008 “Eclipse Records in a Corpus of Colonial Zapotec 260-day Calendars” (co-authored with John Justeson). Ancient Mesoamerica 19 (1): 67-81.
- 2006 “The Passion According to the Wooden Drum: The Christian Appropriation of a Zapotec Ritual Genre in New Spain.” The Americas 62 (3): 413-444.
- 2000 “Naming the Trinity: From Ideologies of Translation to Dialectics of Reception in Colonial Nahua Texts, 1547-1771.” Colonial Latin American Review, 9(1): 21-47.
- 1999 “La idolatría letrada: Un análisis comparativo de textos clandestinos rituales y devocionales en comunidades nahuas y zapotecas, 1613-1654.” Historia Mexicana 194, 49 (2): 197-252.
In the Media
Guggenheim Recipient Illuminates Indigenous History
David Tavárez, Professor of Anthropology, was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship for a project entitled Word, Time, and Resistance in Colonial Mexico: The Zapotec Books of the Cosmos. Vassar Quarterly, Spring/Summer 2017.
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Born and raised in Ciudad Juárez, David Tavárez is a first-generation college graduate whose work addresses the religion, language, and history of Indigenous communities in Latin America. He focuses on ritual, colonial Christianities, Nahua and Zapotec societies, campaigns against idolatry, Indigenous intellectuals, and Mesoamerican calendars. He teaches an introduction to linguistics and anthropology and courses on language and culture, Mesoamerica, the Andes, ethnohistory, and Indigenous religions and literatures. David served as Anthropology department chair, and has also taught courses in the LALS, International Studies, Media Studies, and American Studies programs. He is the author of The Invisible War: Indigenous Devotions, Discipline, and Dissent in Colonial Mexico (Stanford, 2011; Spanish translation 2012), editor of Words and Worlds Turned Around: Indigenous Christianities in Colonial Latin America (Colorado, 2017), and co-author, with Elizabeth Boone and Louise Burkhart, of Painted Words: Nahua Catholicism, Politics, and Memory in the Atzaqualco Pictorial Catechism (Dumbarton Oaks, 2017), and of Chimalpahin’s Conquest: A Nahua Historian’s Rewriting of Francisco López de Gómara’s La conquista de México, with Susan Schroeder, Anne Cruz, and Cristián Roa (Stanford, 2010; Spanish translation 2012). Other publications include more than 40 peer-reviewed articles and chapters and over 30 book reviews.
His work has been supported by the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Science Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation, the John Carter Brown Library, the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, the Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies, and the Research Institute for the Advancement of Man. He has taught at UNAM, CIESAS, and Bard College, and served as peer reviewer for 26 scholarly journals, 15 university presses, and science and humanities councils in the US, Chile and Poland. Other duties include service as Councilor of the American Society for Ethnohistory and as editorial board member at Ethnohistory and Studies in Medieval and Renaissance History. David attended Grinnell College, received a BA from Harvard College (1992), and completed a combined PhD in history and anthropology at the University of Chicago (2000). Nonetheless, his daughter knows far more than him about dinosaurs.