Bodies in Movement, Minds of Nature: A History and Ethnography of Toltec and Aztec Revitalizations in Xicago
Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC Santa Barbara

UC Santa Barbara Electronic Theses and Dissertations bannerUC Santa Barbara

Bodies in Movement, Minds of Nature: A History and Ethnography of Toltec and Aztec Revitalizations in Xicago


Toltec and Aztec Revitalizations are social and religious groups that practice Toltec and Aztec philosophies and physical disciplines (such as Danza) in accordance with Aztec aesthetics and with a belief in Aztec calendric practices and other forms of moral behaviors, through the study and interpretation of Mesoamerican history. This phenomenon speaks to ways in which the colonial project is challenged and even subverted. People practicing these Revitalizations inhabit in-between spaces which are hard to categorize within the parameters of the categories of race and religion. In Mexico, people in these Revitalizations are not classified as Indigenous in the census, even though they identify as such; at the same time, they are considered religious groups/organizations despite rejecting the category of religion within their groups. As a consequence of the mobility of people and ideas between Mexico and the U.S., Toltec and Aztec Revitalizations have served Mexican and Chicano/a/x people as a way to connect with what seems to be an “Aztecization” of an Indigenous identity. This dissertation explores how practitioners from Toltec and Aztec Revitalizations engage with different types of practices to form what I argue is a “racio-religious” identity. The primary method used in this dissertation to gather data around Toltec and Aztec Revitalizations practiced transnationally was ethnographic research in an institute for Toltec teachings in Chicago, Ill. Besides engaging in participant observation in the institute, I interviewed student-practitioners in Chicago and key teachers of Revitalizations in Mexico and Chicago. In addition, I used internal literature—that is, literature produced by members of the Revitalizations from the 1960s to the current day—to gain a historical perspective of concepts and internal vocabulary. This dissertation illustrates that through a set of practices and embodied knowledges (from Aztec Dance to everyday use of the calendar) practitioners of Toltec and Aztec Revitalizations reproduce “racio-religious” identities that embody racial and religious nuances, despite government classifications and the historical erasure of pre-colonial societies.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View