The approach of the year 2000 has created a surge of popular interest in millennialism-the idea that something climactic will happen at the turn of the millennium. But millennialism in the broader sense, comprising apocalyptic, messianic, and utopian ideologies and movements, has long been of intense interest to scholars of history and religion. Much has been written about millennialism in the U.S. and its European roots. Although it is widely recognized that millennialism is also endemic to Latin America, however, until now there has been no systematic study of this phenomenon as it has flourished in that part of the world. Frank Graziano here offers the first such study, examining Latin American millennialism from the Pre-Columbian period up to the present. Organizing his work thematically, he introduces a fascinating array of movements, ideas, and figures, from the legendary Aztec culture hero Quetzalcoatl (whose expected return led to Montezuma's initial acceptance of Cortez) to the contemporary Peruvian rebels of the Shining Path and their messianic leader Abimael Guzman.
Along the way he provides a comprehensive overview of indigenous efforts to eliminate the Spaniards and their culture and restore a remembered pre-colonial utopia, offering exampes from the Andes, the Tarahumara of Northern Mexico, the Yucatan Maya and others. Christian millennialism and its descendants also appear in many forms, from the Franciscan missionary attempt to recreate the Primitive Church in the New World, to Liberation Theology and the "Jesus of the Poor" of contemporary Nicaragua. Throughout the book, Graziano argues that millennialism in Latin America has roots in all three of the major cultural sources-native American, European, and African-that have come together to constitute Latin American culture, and he skillfully traces the subtle blendings and mutual influences among these millennial traditions. The result, he shows, is not just a mixture of existing ideas but a fusion exhibiting elements of real originality.
[G]raziano's exhaustively annotated cases constitute a valuable catalogue of the salient features of Latin American millennialism."--The Catholic Historical Review."
"Graziano's wonderful book crosses disciplinary boundaries to bring to life the transcendent, amazing, and sometimes bizarre collective visions and millenarian movements that have inspired and driven so much of the history of the Americas. This fascinating account represents the new cultural studies at its best."--Gilbert W. Merkx, Editor, Latin American Research Review
"[G]raziano's exhaustively annotated cases constitute a valuable catalogue of the salient features of Latin American millennialism."--The Catholic Historical Review."
"This excellent work by Frank Graziano reveals new dimensions of the millennial fever that has spread across academia and popular cultures as we enter the third millennium. He shows how the New World of the Americas was profoundly a Millennial World. Not only did the Europeans bring the dream of the millennium with them, but native expectations of cosmic changes greeted them during their many arrivals. Further, the Africans who were dragged into the Americas
utilized their millennial hopes to survive. But Graziano's key contribution is to show that this variety of millennial hopes did more than form a melting pot of ideas; rather, they stimulated new orders of meaning that were different from anything else in the world." --David Carrasco, Professor of
History of Religions, Princeton University
"Millennial studies owes Graziano a huge debt for this conceptually sophisticated, wide-ranging study of the rich, if rarely plowed terrain of Latin American millennialism. With a sure hand, he moves between the most recondite religious material to the secular messiahs of Marxist revolution, from Antonio Conselhiero to Evita Peron, showing links and ruptures, and, in the end, the wide range of influences that millennial beliefs and movements have had on Latin
American culture and society."--Richard Landes, Director, Center of Millennial Studies, Boston University
"A fascinating analysis of the varieties of millennial ideologies that inspired the Spanish to conquer and the indigenous people to resist."--Choice