What Happened to the Aztecs and Their Descendants?

Past Event: 17 July 2014

Dr Barry Carr
Source: Barry Carr

What does it mean to be an Aztec in the modern world?

Dr Barry Carr will examine Nahuátl speakers, Neo-Aztecs and Indigenous People in Central Mexico today.

Following the Spanish conquest, and especially after Mexico gained its independence from Spain, Aztec culture and achievements have been highly regarded: the name Mexico is, in fact, derived from the Nahua word (Mexica) that the Aztecs used to describe themselves.

Although most Mexicans today are people of mixed ethnic origin, Aztec identities and claims are still vividly present in how many Mexicans think of themselves. The lecture explores the ways in which Nahua-speaking people in central Mexico deal with their pre-Hispanic roots and the reasons for the ongoing fascination of governments, artists and national culture with Aztec legacies.

The lecture will close with an examination of the neo-Aztecs, a loose movement of mostly non-Indian citizens who celebrate Aztec dress, food, dance, aesthetics and body modification. Visit the Zócalo, Mexico City's main square, and you'll certainly find some of these Neo-Aztecs displaying their adopted heritage.


Barry Carr is a historian specialising in the social, economic and political history of modern Mexico and the Greater Caribbean. He founded and directed the Institute of Latin American Studies at La Trobe University where he also taught between 1972 and 2008.