Cortez, seated, Malintzin standing beside him, speak with a group of Aztec peoples, various artifacts on the ground in front of Cortez.Malintzin has been one of Mexico’s greatest villains for 500 years. A native of Veracruz, she translated for Hernan Cortes, the conquistador who destroyed the Aztec Empire. But she did more than translate: she birthed his children, helped him win battles, and saved his life again and again as they trekked from the Maya coast to the heart of the empire. Through it all, she alone spoke for Cortes, and also for everyone he met. Exploring the incredible life of this powerful woman who facilitated the conquest of Mexico with Dr. Jeffrey Richey, we ask ourselves whether anyone has a choice in how their path unfolds, and what is at the core of our identity.

A new documentary examining the mythology around Malintzin’s life is coming soon.

Photos courtesy of Jeffrey Richey

Jeffrey Richey specializes in the social and cultural history of modern Latin America. His dissertation, “Playing at Nation: Soccer Competitions, Racial Ideology, and National Integration in Argentina, 1912-1931,” explored the impact of organized soccer and the popular sports press in nation formation and the dissemination of certain racial ideologies in early 20th century Argentina.

Music featured in this episode included

Jeffrey Richey also recommends” “La Morena” by Laura Rebolloso y Ensamble Marinero.