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Federico Navarrete

I am Federico/Fe Navarrete, a non-binary person, my pronouns are he/she. For over 30 years I have done research and written history books and essays about the European colonization of Mexico and the Americas, and the responses of Amerindian and Afroamerican groups to colonialism. Recently I published two books that present a new interpretation of the events of the so-called conquest of Mexico: ¿Quién conquistó México? (2019), and Malintzin, o la conquista como traducción (2021). I have also published extensively on Amerindian visual histories, generally know as codices, and their conceptions of temporality and history, analyzing particularly how they interpreted the process of colonization from an Indigenous point of view, and how they incorporated Western elements. In 2021 I took part in the first German edition of Codex Mendoza. 

From this concern about the deep history of colonization at a global level, has arisen my research on the history of racism in Mexico and Latin America. Besides academic articles on the subject, I have written two political essays Mexico Racista (2016) and Alfabeto del racismo mexicano (2017) which have been influential on the growing national debates about this subject. More recently, my gender identification has led me to reflect more and more on the relations between racism and gender, and to carry out a deconstruction of the male-centered narratives of colonial domination in order to explore the significance of other genders in these processes. I am a member of Poder Prieto, an intersectional anti-racist collective of Mexican artists and actors who fight for broader representation in the media. 

I also do extensive work in public history. I write historical fiction novels for younger readers and recently I have directed several high impact public history projects, such as Noticonquista (2019-2021), Pintar el Lienzo de Tlaxcala (2017-22), and El racismo en el cuerpo y en el mundo (2022). 

I work as professor at the Instituto de Investigaciones Históricas of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, and as speaker for the International Graduate College Temporalities of future, a partnership between German and Mexican universities. I have been visiting professor in Costa Rica, Brazil, Germany and the US.

In my year at Cambridge I intend to do research and write on the intersection between racist and patriarchal violence inflicted on racialized and genderized bodies by the state, the elites and the economic powers, foreign and domestic, including male heroes such as Simón Bolívar, sustaining colonial and national regimes in Latin and North America alike.

In particular I shall deal with the phantom of an ever threatening war of races. Since the 18th century, the ruling elites have felt fear and anxiety about a looming conflagration in which the oppressed groups, racialized as Black or Indigenous, would rise up to exterminate their white or mestizo dominators. This perceived threat, combined with moral panic over the sexual menace represented by racialized males, serves to conflate political expression with revolution and criminal violence, and has justified continuing violence and exclusion, helping to perpetuate the gendered and racialized hierarchies of power, money and knowledge. Gender and racial constructions create a social space divided into warring camps, a conception that has grown stronger in the 20th century.

In this regard, I would like to start a collective conversation about the complex roles played by figures such as Simón Bolivar in the fraught history of violence in the Americas, and to question how the glorification of male caudillos and male intellectuals as the paramount representatives of Latin American identity helps perpetuate racist and sexist regimes in politics and academia.