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"Moctezuma’s Headdress & Zapatista Coffee by the Danube: The Decolonial Politics of Raiders of the Lost Crown"
  • Thursday, April 7, 2016 - 3:30pm to 5:00pm

FBH, Grad Lounge

Presented by Latitudes, co-sponsored by AmLit:

Professor Jennifer Sternad Ponce de León, "Moctezuma’s Headdress & Zapatista Coffee by the Danube: The Decolonial Politics of Raiders of the Lost Crown"

Pre-circulated readings include
1) the series of emails disseminated as part of Raiders of the Lost Crown (please contact Howie Tam at and
2) the manifesto "Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle" (2005) found online in

From Professor Ponce de León: "Raiders of the Lost Crown (2013) is a transmedial narrative and alternative reality game created by artist and writer Fran Ilich under the aegis of the Diego de la Vega Cooperative Media Conglomerate. As a game, Raiders began by proposing a mission: the recapture of a precolonial Nahua (Aztec) headdress that is displayed in Vienna’s World Museum. Raiders’s narrative proceeded through Ilich’s semi-fictional communiqués and petitions, epistolary exchange among a transnational network of players, a guerrilla intervention at the World Museum, and the sale of Zapatista coffee. Essentially, Raiders used a long-standing binational controversy surrounding the rightful ownership of the ancient headdress as a device of emplotment to advance a capacious narrative about continuities between (neo)colonial and (neo)imperial formations in the Americas from Conquest to the present and the histories and possible futures of anticolonial resistance. I argue that Ilich’s alignment with the revolutionary and decolonial thought of the EZLN shapes both the politics and aesthetics of Raiders, as it openly grapples with the challenges of translating the political ideals of Zapatismo to contexts in which metropolitan intellectuals move. Its narrative critically inhabits the language of capitalist finance and property rights to point to outstanding debts of imperialist nations and it looks to indigenous liberation struggles to understand justice in the face of continued neocolonial plunder. Ultimately, in a utopian vein, Raiders gives aesthetic expression to a collective desire for a world beyond European colonial modernity."