Project Description

ELIZABETH BAQUEDANO

Academic and Researcher

I came to the UK to pursue a master’s degree at the University of London in 1974. Two of my main interests within Mesoamerican archaeology have always been the study of gold produced by the Mixtecs and Aztecs. I was fortunate to study under Prof. Warwick Bray, one of the foremost experts on metallurgy in the Americas. My master’s thesis formed the basis of my first book, Aztec Sculpture (1984), which brings together the Aztec collection of the British Museum.

I then continued my academic training at the University of Cambridge in the Department of Archeology. I returned to Mexico, and it was not until 1984 that I came back to England to start my PhD at the Institute of Archeology at University College London, which I completed in 1989.

In 1990 I was the recipient of the British Mexican Society award for best PhD thesis on a subject related to Mexico: Aztec Death Sculpture. At the end of my PhD, I started working at the Macmillan Dictionary of Art as editor of The Americas. The collection comprises 35 volumes, but my work focused on the American continent, from the cultures that developed before Christ, until the beginning of the 16th century.

In 1992, the government of Spain invited me to work as coordinator in the United Kingdom of the Fifth Centenary of the encounter between Spain and America. I was also working as a professor at Loughborough University, where I taught Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican Art, as well as at Birkbeck College.

I have curated various exhibitions, including “Sañuq and Toltecatl: Pre-Columbian Arts of Middle and South America” at the Manchester Museum, University of Manchester (1992) and “Moore and Mexico” at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, in 1998, on the occasion of the centenary of Henry Moore’s birth.

Since the creation of the Mexican gallery at the British Museum, I continue to regularly give courses and lectures there. My first collaboration with a museum was “Aztec Treasures from Mexico” for the state visit of the President de la Madrid, at the Museum of Mankind, London, in June 1985. I have given courses and lectures at the Horniman Museum, Leighton House, Victoria and Albert Museum, Henry Moore Foundation, Brighton Pavilion, Ulster Museum, and other universities and museums.

In 2006, I joined University College London, where I have been working to date on the master’s program with postgraduate students. Currently I am the coordinator of Comparative Archaeologies of the Americas, Aztec Archaeology and Ethnohistory. Students have nominated me for several years as a teacher who inspires students through teaching with the “Inspiring Teaching Delivery Award”.

A great achievement was the introduction of the Day of the Dead celebrations in the United Kingdom, an activity that I managed to promote in collaboration with the Dying Matters organization in 2012. Now the Day of the Dead is celebrated in various parts of the United Kingdom.

The government of Mexico granted me the Ohtli award in 2014, one of the most gratifying distinctions I have received in my professional life. I have published several books and articles in academic journals and contributed to the book “The Histories of Nations” with the chapter on Mexico (2012).

My assimilation to this wonderful country was easy thanks to the open and respectful attitude that the UK has towards foreigners. Fortunately, the activities that I carry out on a daily basis are directly related to Mexico and I feel very proud and grateful to be able to promote my country’s culture in an inclusive country where cultures from all over the world have a place.

Elizabeth Baquedano