Inga Clendinnen In Fierce And Unnatural Cruelty

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Undoubtedly, interpretations of history are reflective of the multifaceted contexts of the historians who write it - that includes profession, audience and heritage. The complexity of context affects history in an unpredictable manner, particularly in the case of the Aztec Empire; and often the effect of context on a history is only noticeable when the context is known - that is to say that the markings of context are only really evident once the context it is known to the responder, and therefore that the value of historical writings should be derived from the difference between accounts, that is the uniqueness of differing opinion, or a more holistic consideration of elements like media, purpose, than the commonality (primarily a modern,…show more content…
Unlike DBC Pierre, Clendinnen has a more rigid contextual application to her history, having studied Anthropology and therefore approaching the Aztecs through the intensely human aspect, in the manner of history from below. In dealing with the reasons for defeat of the Aztec Empire, Clendinnen focuses on the intensely intimate and brutal cultural practices of battle and further war. She focuses intensely on the cultural forces, as defined by humans, in losing the war - and she raises the question of the adaptability of the Aztec Empire to the Spanish terms of engagement. She provides interesting insight into the inability for both the Spanish or the Aztecs to understand one another; clearly influenced by her background in Anthropology. Undoubtedly, her contextualisation of the downfall through the insuperable cultural clash and demands of ritual, that is hand to hand combat only and the criminal death system in battle is reflective of her familiarity with Anthropology - certainly her character dissection of Cortes is done in an intense, anthropological detail. The other aspects of her context are perhaps more overarching and general - and another problem with the impact of context lies in the fact that context is near infinite and selecting where to apply context and where not to is undoubtedly dubious with no accepted standard. Certainly she grew up in a predominantly white and ubiquitously racist Australian society (eg. White Australia Policy), and her inference of the Aztec’s being unadaptable could be seen as being racially charged if not condescending. The area of context is highly complex and can invite an oversimplification, and again its impact should be viewed with careful consideration of every

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