Joint appointment with Harvard Divinity School
Research and Teaching Interests
Urban ecology and ceremonial centers, ritual violence and state organization: Mesoamerica.
Davíd Carrasco (Neil L. Rudenstine Professor of the Study of Latin America) is a Mexican American historian of religions with particular interest in Mesoamerican cities as symbols, and the Mexican-American borderlands. His studies with historians of religions at the University of Chicago inspired him to work on the question, "where is your sacred place," on the challenges of postcolonial ethnography and theory, and on the practices and symbolic nature of ritual violence in comparative perspective. Working with Mexican archaeologists, he has carried out research in the excavations and archives associated with the sites of Teotihuacan and Mexico-Tenochtitlan resulting in Religions of Mesoamerica, City of Sacrifice, and Quetzalcoatl and the Irony of Empire. An award-winning teacher, he has participated in spirited debates at Harvard with Cornel West and Samuel Huntington on the topics of race, culture, and religion in the Americas.
Recent collaborative publications include: Goodness and the Literary Imagination: Harvard's 95th Ingersoll Lecture with Essays on Morrison's Moral and Religious Vision by Toni Morrison (Author), David Carrasco (Editor), with Stephanie Paulsell and Mara Willard. (University of Virginia Press, 2019), Breaking Through Mexico's Past: Digging the Aztecs With Eduardo Matos Moctezuma (2007), Mysteries of the Maya Calendar Museum (2012) with Laanna Carrasco, and Cave, City, and Eagle's Nest: An Interpretive Journey Through the Mapa de Cuauhtinchan No. 2 (2007; gold winner of the 2008 PubWest Book Design Award in the academic book/nontrade category) recently featured in The New York Review of Books.
His work has included a special emphasis on the religious dimensions of Latino experience: mestizaje, the myth of Aztlan, transculturation, and La Virgen de Guadalupe. He is co-producer of the film Alambrista: The Director's Cut, which puts a human face on the life and struggles of undocumented Mexican farm workers in the United States, and he edited Alambrista and the U.S.-Mexico Border: Film, Music, and Stories of Undocumented Immigrants (University of New Mexico Press). He is editor-in-chief of the award-winning three-volume Oxford Encyclopedia of Mesoamerican Cultures. His most recent publication is a new abridgement of Bernal Díaz del Castillo's memoir of the conquest of Mexico, History of the Conquest of New Spain (University of New Mexico Press).
Carrasco has received the Mexican Order of the Aztec Eagle, the highest honor the Mexican government gives to a foreign national. He was chosen as the University of Chicago Alumnus of the Year, 2014.
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