Folio 46r from Codex Telleriano-Remensis was created in the sixteenth century under the supervision of Spanish missionaries in central Mexico. As an artifact of seismic cultural and political shifts, the manuscript painting is a singular document of indigenous response to Spanish conquest. Examining the ways in which the folio's tlacuilo (indigenous painter/writer) creates a pictorial vocabulary, this book embraces the place "outside" history from which this rich document emerged.
Applying contemporary intellectual perspectives, including aspects of gender, modernity, nation, and visual representation itself, José Rabasa reveals new perspectives on colonial order. Folio 46r becomes a metaphor for reading the totality of the codex and for reflecting on the postcolonial theoretical issues now brought to bear on the past. Ambitious and innovative (such as the invention of the concepts of elsewheres and ethnosuicide, and the emphasis on intuition), Tell Me the Story of How I Conquered You embraces the performative force of the native scribe while acknowledging the ineffable traits of 46r—traits that remain untenably foreign to the modern excavator/scholar. Posing provocative questions about the unspoken dialogues between evangelizing friars and their spiritual conquests, this book offers a theoretic-political experiment on the possibility of learning from the tlacuilo ways of seeing the world that dislocate the predominance of the West.