"Ontological Entanglements: Animals and Natural History in Sixteenth-Century Mesoamerica"
Marcy Norton, History Department, University of Pennsylvania
The Franciscan missionary Bernardino de Sahagún and the humanist physician Francisco Hernández directed major natural history projects in the late sixteenth century that were utterly dependent on the expertise of indigenous Mesoamericans. This paper seeks to demonstrate how indigenous technologies of hunting and ritual performance, as well as European practices of animal husbandry, produced knowledge about animals in these sources. More broadly, the paper offers a phenomenological account of ontologies, challenges (still) prevailing narratives of epistemological change in early modern Europe, and suggests new ways of thinking about the relationship of European and non-European ontologies.