Roger Thayer Stone Center For Latin American Studies

Tulane University

Call for papers: The 2019 Mesoamerica Meetings

October 1st, 2018

The 2019 Mesoamerica Meetings will be held at the University of Texas, Austin, from January 15 though January 19, 2019. The topic this year will be Dress Codes: Regalia and Attire in Ancient Mesoamerica. The Mesoamerica Meetings Symposium now combines invited talks and papers submitted through our open call for submissions.

The paper submission deadline is October 15th, 2018. Accepted participants will be notified via email by November 1st, 2018.

The 2019 Mesoamerica Meetings will take a detailed and interdisciplinary look at topics related to dress, adornment, regalia, and bodily decoration among ancient Mesoamerican cultures. This topic was certainly of great importance to ancient Mesoamericans, given how the imagery accompanying the human body was so central to identity, status, and social codes. Yet the study of this rich and informative theme remains under-developed in many ways. Our meeting will bring together an international group of scholars, students, and all interested people to explore the different ways in which “dress codes” can reveal new insights into Mesoamerican societies, cultures, and worldviews.

Some questions the conference hopes to address include: What were the messages and ideas conveyed by the attire and regalia of Mesoamerican kings, queens, and other elites and how do they compare with the context of dress and adornment of other social classes? How did societal restrictions and sumptuary laws reinforce hierarchical structures? What was the nature of fashion and adornment in economic context, and how can we study it? What materials and specialized crafts in Mesoamerica were uniquely focused on adorning the body? How did elements of dress and adornment of human bodies also extend to the dressing of objects, and what do these practices indicate about the nature of people and things? How did dress and attributes of attire communicate social standing and contexts of practice, from royal office, to dance, war, and ritual? Conversely, what were the implications of nakedness, and the stripping off of attire and regalia? How did humans impersonate deities, embody ancestors and lineages, and personify divine concepts through elements of clothing, masks, and headdresses? Can we relate the imagery of dress and regalia to larger artistic and iconographic programs in Mesoamerican art?

The conference is not only about clothing and costumes. Rather it strives to investigate what might be called the “iconography of the body.” The human form was a medium for artistic display of many kinds, encompassing woven and painted designs in cloth and paper, jewels of precious stones and metals, intricate featherwork, and the use of hides and other animal parts, diverse color materials, headgear, body art, even hieroglyphic writing. Tackling subjects within this large topic inevitably takes us into important issues about performance, economics, gender, politics, and society. Like other broad themes covered by The Mesoamerica Meetings, regalia and attire provide a window of new perspectives on a distant world.

Mesoamerica + People
Stephen A. Nelson
Associate Professor - Earth & Environmental Science