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The Rain Gods' Rebellion: The Cultural Basis of a Nahua Insurgency
by James M. Taggart
University Press of Colorado, 2019
eISBN: 978-1-60732-956-5 | Paper: 978-1-60732-950-3
Library of Congress Classification F1221.N3
Dewey Decimal Classification 972.48


The Rain Gods’ Rebellion examines Nahua oral narratives to illuminate the cultural basis of the 1977–1984 rebellion against the local Hispanic elite in Huitzilan de Serdán, Mexico. Drawing from forty years of fieldwork in the region, James M. Taggart traces the sociopolitical role of Nahua rain gods—who took both human and divine forms—back hundreds of years and sheds new light on the connections between social experiences and the Nahua understanding of water and weather in stories. As Taggart shows, Nahua tales of the rain gods’ rebellion anticipated the actual 1977 land invasion in Huitzilan, in which some 200–300 Nahua were killed.

The Rain Gods’ Rebellion reveals how local culture evolves from the expression of unrest to organized insurgency and then into collective memory. Taggart records a tradition of storytelling in which Nahuas radicalized themselves through recounting the rain gods’ stories—stories of the gods organizing and striking with bolts of lightning the companion spirits of autocratic local leaders who worked closely with mestizos. The tales are part of a tradition of resisting the friars’ efforts to convert the Nahuas, Totonacs, Otomi, and Tepehua to Christianity and inspiring nativistic movements against invading settlers.

Providing a rare longitudinal look at the cultural basis of this grassroots insurgency, The Rain Gods’ Rebellion offers rare insight into the significance of oral history in forming Nahua collective memory and, by extension, culture. It will be of significance to scholars of Indigenous studies, anthropology, oral history, and violence studies, as well as linguistic anthropologists and sociolinguists.

See other books on: Insurgency | Land use, Rural | Nahua mythology | Nahuas | Puebla (State)
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