On the Spot: Camilla Townsend
‘As we grow older, we often learn that we have misunderstood our parents and grandparents.’
Why are you a historian of Native America?
When I began to read the histories that the 16th-century Nahuas (or Aztecs) wrote, I felt I had been admitted to a great chamber of knowledge which had been buried for far too long.
What’s the most important lesson history has taught you?
As we grow older, we often learn that we have misunderstood our parents and grandparents.
Which history book has had the greatest influence on you?
The Nahuas After the Conquest, by James Lockhart.
What book in your field should everyone read?
Louise Burkhart’s The Slippery Earth: Nahua-Christian Moral Dialogue in Sixteenth-Century Mexico.
Which moment would you most like to go back to?
As a woman, not descended from a powerful family, who has some health problems, I think I had better not go back at all!
Which historian has had the greatest influence on you?
James Lockhart. Those of us who study the Nahua world are forever in his debt.
Which person in history would you most like to have met?
Malintzin, aka Doña Marina.