Spring 2020 Eduardo Matos Moctezuma Lecture to be Delivered by Juan Villoro of El Colegio Nacional

February 21, 2020
Pre-Columbian gold pectoral figure from Tomb 7 of Monte Albán, Mexico. Photo ©Javier Hinojosa, INAH /Secretaría de CulturaIn an effort to renew its commitment to in-depth research and educational collaboration with Mexico, Harvard University established the Eduardo Matos Moctezuma Lecture Series in 2017. This series celebrates the excellence of Mexican archaeology and history, represented by Professor Eduardo Matos Moctezuma, Mexico’s preeminent archaeologist, who delivered the inaugural addresses in both Cambridge and Mexico City. The Spring 2020 Lecture will be delivered by author and journalist Juan Villoro. The lecture, “The Obsidian Mirror: Literature and Archeology in Mexico,” will be held on Thursday, April 23rd, at 6 p.m. EST at the Geological Lecture Hall of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. The event is free and open to the public and will be live-streamed for those unable to attend.

Juan Villoro (b. 1956, Mexico City) is a prize-winning novelist, essayist, playwright, journalist, and screenwriter whose work addresses an impressive array of topics with insight, dark humor, and irony: canonical Mexican literature; the Zapatista insurrection in Chiapas; the legacy of Mexico’s Cristero War; the intersections of popular television and fiction genres; and the social and cultural functions of spectator sports like boxing and soccer. He is one of Mexico's most prolific living authors and a world-renowned public intellectual. Villoro’s journalistic and literary work has been recognized with such international prizes as the Iberoamerican Awards José Donoso and Manuel Rojas, both awarded in Chile; in Spain, the Herralde Prize for his novel El testigo, and the LIBER Prize for the most distinguished Latin American writer; in Argentina, the ACE Award for his play Philosophy of Life; and in Cuba, the José María Arguedas Award for his novel Arrecife. His journalism has been recognized with the Rey de España and Ciudad de Barcelona Awards. He was also the winner of the Manuel Vázquez Montalbán International Award for his football chronicles God is Round; and Mexico’s Xavier Villaurrutia literary award. His novels have sold more than one million copies, and they have been translated into a dozen languages.

Villoro has been a professor of literature at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), and a visiting professor at Yale University, Princeton University, Stanford University, Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, and at the New Journalism Foundation, created by Gabriel García Márquez. From 1995 to 1998 he directed La Jornada Weekly, a supplement of the newspaper La Jornada. He is a columnist for the newspapers Reforma (Mexico) and El País and El Periódico de Catalunya (Spain). His most recent book is The Horizontal Vertigo: A City Called Mexico (2018). Villoro became a member of Mexico’s El Colegio Nacional in 2014, and currently serves as Tinker Visiting Professor at the Center for Latin American Studies at Stanford University.

The Eduardo Matos Moctezuma Lecture Series is made possible thanks to the generosity of José Antonio Alonso Espinosa and the initiative of Davíd L. Carrasco, Neil L. Rudenstine Professor of the Study of Latin America at Harvard University with a Joint Appointment in the Harvard Divinity School and the Department of Anthropology. This is the first lecture series named after a Mexican in Harvard’s nearly 400-year history and is the product of almost four decades of close collaboration between professors Matos and Carrasco on the excavation and research projects surrounding the Templo Mayor at Tenochtitlan. The Lecture Series comes out of a collaboration between the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, the Harvard Divinity School, the Moses Mesoamerican Archive and Research Project, and the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology of Harvard University. In Mexico, Harvard receives invaluable support for the Matos Moctezuma Lecture Series from the country’s  Ministry of Culture through the National Institute of Anthropology and History, the National Museum of Anthropology, and the Templo Mayor Museum.

A breath-taking painting by Mexican-American artist George Yepes titled “El Caballero Águila,” commissioned especially for the Matos Lecture Series, serves as the visual identity for the series.