New Brescia Lecture Series via Zoom Webinar: Five Thursdays in October, 2:30 -4 p.m. 

Michael Brescia

Dr. Michael Brescia,

Arizona State Museum &

University of Arizona

Thursday, October 1, 8, 15, 22, and 29, 2020,

2:30-4 p.m., Zoom Webinars*

The Arizona Senior Academy Building remains closed.

Smallpox in Mexico (Florentine codex, 1593)

Amid the lethal toll of Covid-19 and the accompanying global economic downturn, historians are revisiting the role of diseases in world history and their larger impact on culture and society. Even a cursory glance tells us that Mexico is no stranger to the debilitating effects of disease on individuals, families, and communities, not to mention an epidemic’s capability to transform the political, economic, and social institutions that fashioned daily life in the deep past. In search of clues to help us better grasp what has been unfolding around us today, historian Michael Brescia will examine the multiple ways in which diseases defined the broader contours of early Mexican history, from Pre-Columbian times to Spanish conquest and colonization.

Session 1, October 1: “From Cocoliztli to the Coronavirus: Toward an Understanding of Disease in Mexican History,” establishes the conceptual framework for this lecture series and identifies the challenges that historians face when they interrogate the evidence of historical diseases.

Session 2, October 8:  “Written with Soft Chalk: Disease and Population in Pre-Columbian Mexico,” examines the interdisciplinary scope of research into Mexican antiquity and discusses the varieties of the Mesoamerican experience before the arrival of the Spanish in the sixteenth century.

Session 3, October 15: “A Disease of the Heart: The Spanish Conquest of Mexico,” evaluates Old World diseases as a crucial factor in Hernán Cortés’s conquest of Moctezuma’s Aztec confederation.

Session 4, October 22: “Remote Beyond Compare: The Long Haul of Colonial Epidemics,” examines the regional dimensions of disease in colonial Mexico, from the arid stretches of its far northern frontier to the humid zones located in the southern reaches.

Session 5, October 29: “Quarantines, Vaccines, and How to Have a Good Death in Late Colonial Mexico,” explores the last decades of Spanish colonialism at the intersection of medicine and religiosity.

Dr. Brescia is Curator of Ethnohistory in the Arizona State Museum with faculty affiliations in the Department of History and the College of Law at the University of Arizona. He has co-authored two books examining the broader historical forces shaping our continent from Pre-Columbian times to the Present: Mexico and the United States: Ambivalent Vistas (2010), and North America: An Introduction (2009). Back by popular demand for his fourth lecture series at ASA, Dr. Brescia follows up his earlier series, “Making (Historical) Sense of Mexico” (2018); “Understanding Mexican History Through Frida Kahlo and Her Artwork” (2019), and “Toward and Understanding of World History and Globalization” earlier this year.

*To access the Zoom Webinars, write

 Written by Marna Broekhoff, Academy Village Volunteer

Thursday, October 1, 8, 15, 22, and 29, 2020: “A Pestilence So Great and Universal: Disease and Health in Early Mexican History”