Davíd Carrasco
Professor, Writer, Lecturer, Activist

Day of the Dead Altar
© President and Fellows of Harvard College, and courtesy of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology


Five Lessons from Toni Morrison
September 9, 2019
Coverage of the Harvard Divinity School tribute to Toni Morrison in the Harvard Gazette.
Eulogy for Toni Morrison
August 6, 2019

My friend Toni Morrison wrote in her Nobel Prize lecture “We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.”

Toni has died, but the meaning of her life can be found in her language and her measure is beyond our knowing. I think the Mexicans measured her best when, on the day we arrived at the national university, they greeted her with signs that showed her photo below the words, “Toni Morrison Entre Nosotros” i.e. Toni Morrison Among Us.

Because of her grace and beauty, her family and friends, her language and her readers, she remains “entre nosotros.”

What is our task now in mourning her? To remember and act on what she taught us in The Bluest Eye, Sula, Jazz, Tar Baby, and God Help the Child! Combine the inspiration with the moral task ahead. In Love she taught us the wisdom of having African American spiritual allies to give us the chance to love what we have lost. In Song of Solomon she taught us how to fly above the white terror of history when she wrote “If you surrendered to the air, you could ride it” as she is now riding Home to paradise. She gave us the way forward in the final paragraph of her novel Paradise. A woman named Piedade or Compassion sees another ship of migrants arriving in America. They are “lost and saved, atremble” at what will greet them at the borderland of the shore. The final sentence is “Now they will rest before shouldering the endless work they were created to do down here in Paradise.”

She once told me, “You know, Davíd, the real story is that the people who were treated like beasts did not become beastly.” Our Beloved Toni, who gave us new knowledge and loved us through her writings, has gone to her rest and we must shoulder the endless work we were created to do down here in the Americas. To show A Mercy to one another.

Davíd Carrasco greets Toni Morrison with flowers following her lecture at Harvard in 2012

Davíd Carrasco greets Toni Morrison with flowers following her lecture at Harvard in 2012
Ongoing Coverage of Toni Morrison Documentary
Last Updated July 9, 2019

Carrasco is a cast member in new film "Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am". In the film Carrasco tells of escorting Toni Morrison to Mexico City and also remarks on the religious dimensions of her novels. He attended New York City Premier of the film on Thursday, June 13th at the New York Public Library.


Carrasco on set of Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am
©2019 Sandra Guzman • Carrasco on the set of Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am
After film photo with Gloria Steinem, film director Timothy Greenfield Sanders, cast members Paula Giddings, Farah Griffin and David Carrasco at the New York Public Library premier.
After film photo with Gloria Steinem, film director Timothy Greenfield Sanders, cast members Paula Giddings, Farah Griffin and David Carrasco at the New York Public Library premier.
Toni Morrison and Davíd Carrasco
Toni Morrison and Davíd Carrasco
"The Life and Three Voices of Carlos Fuentes"
Mar 25, 2019

Davíd Carrasco gave the Alfonso Reyes Lecture "The Life and Three Voices of Carlos Fuentes" at Tecnologia de Monterrey University. Here he appears before a photo of Carlos Fuentes, Toni Morrison, Eduardo Matos Moctezuma and friends at the home of Carlos and Sylvia Lemus in 1995.

Davíd Carrasco before a photo of Carlos Fuentes, Toni Morrison, Eduardo Matos Moctezuma and friends at the home of Carlos and Sylvia Lemus in 1995.
Carrasco to deliver the Cátedra Alfonso Reyes in March 2019
Feb 4, 2019

Carrasco will deliver the Cátedra Alfonso Reyes at Tec de Monterrey in March 2019. Details on the Cátedra Alfonso Reyes website in Spanish (translated by Google into English).

Carrasco Appearing in the Documentary Film Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am Premiering at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival
January 20, 2019
Details about the film on the Sundance Institute site and on IMDB.com.
October 19, 2018

The Harvard Divinity School website shares more on the upcoming PBS series including commentary on the following extended interview:

Fan Mail
September 24, 2018

“I was thrilled to receive this message from a Boston 5th grade teacher about using "Mysteries of the Maya Calendar Museum," written by my daughter Laanna and me:

Hello Professor Carrasco,

Our fifth-grade class has enjoyed reading your book, “Mysteries of the Maya Calendar Museum.” We are going to the Magnificent Maya exhibit at the Peabody Museum at Harvard in two weeks as well. Just wanted to say thanks and if you know of any other age-appropriate learning materials for my class, please send them my way!

Ann-Marie Keltner, Park Street School, Boston

Ann-Marie Keltner Park Street School, Boston

September 12, 2018

More coverage in American Indian Magazine of the upcoming four-part series “Native America,” from Providence Pictures airing on PBS this fall. Watch it on Tuesday evenings starting Oct. 23, 2018, from 9–10 p.m. ET.

Native America on PBS
September 4, 2018

Davíd Carrasco with Zuni farmer, scholar and river guide Jim Enote at the launch for PBS TV series “Native America” at the Television Critics Association Press Tour in Los Angeles. Enote and Carrasco are featured in several of the four episodes that will air starting October 23rd.

Jim Enote with Carrasco Carrasco with Jim Enote
Harvard Divinity School asked Davíd Carrasco what he's reading this summer…
June 12, 2018

“I'm immersing myself in Toni Morrison's writings this summer. This task and pleasure is driven by the book project Professor Stephanie Paulsell, Mara Willard, and I are doing with Toni Morrison about the religious dimensions of her writings. This book, 'Goodness: Altruism and the Literary Imagination,' to be published by the University of Virginia Press, emerges from…continue reading

Carrasco Helping in “Making Change” at Harvard Divinity School
April 20, 2018

Davíd Carrasco is one of the faculty leaders in this new Executive Education Program, “Making Change” taking place this June 18-21 at the Harvard Divinity School.

Carrasco and Eduardo Matos Moctezuma at Tec de Monterrey
April 16, 2018

See Davíd Carrasco and Eduardo Matos Moctezuma speaking at Tec de Monterrey. Carrasco comes on at minute 40 on the story of the return of Quetzalcoatl.

Carrasco Delivers Inaugural “Anthony Aveni Lecture in Native American Studies”
April 5, 2018

The event occured at Colgate University in honor of Carrasco's longtime mentor, friend and colleague, Anthony Aveni.

Poster for Anthony Aveni Lecture
Family Photo
March 16, 2018

Carrasco's mother, age 94, in front of a mural honoring his father, David L. Carrasco, in El Paso, Texas.

Carrasco's mother in front of mural of his father.
Georgetown University Interview with Carrasco
November 17, 2017

Carrasco interviewed by Dr. Mara Willard at the Berkeley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs at Georgetown University.

Another Humanities Approach
November 2, 2017

Harvard Gazette covers a weekly dialogue, “Quests for Wisdom: Religious, Moral, and Aesthetic Experiences in the Art of Living,” co-created by Carrasco and Professor Arthur Kleinman that looks at wisdom as it relates to how we experience the world, and the strategies we need to have a moral life amid uncertainty.

Expanding Coverage of Carrasco Initiated Lecture Series
November 2, 2017

“…To recognize the seminal importance of [Eduardo Matos Moctezuma and Carrasco's] research, leading Harvard University scholars traveled to Mexico in October 2017 to inaugurate the Eduardo Matos Moctezuma Lecture Series.” Full article on Harvard Divinity School Site

Day of the Dead Festivities at the Peabody Museum
October 30, 2017

Video on Facebook of Day of the Dead/Dia de los Muertos celebrations at Harvard's Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology curated by Carrasco and Mexican artist Mizael Sanchez.

Day of the Dead 2017 at the Peadody Museum
Day of the Dead 2017 at the Peadody Museum

Carrasco Drives Effort Behind Harvard's Eduardo Matos Moctezuma Lecture Series
October 6, 2017

See Davíd Carrasco lead the way in inaugurating the “Eduardo Matos Moctezuma Lecture Series” in Mexico and Harvard. This is the first time in Harvard's almost 400 years that a lecture series in the name of a Mexican scholar has been launched.

read more on gob.mx

The full event

The announcement (length 1:32):

Carrasco and Cornel West Together Again
August 29, 2017

Black/Brown Dialogues in the Future!

HDS Professor of the Practice of Public Philosophy Cornel West delivered the 2017 Convocation address “Spiritual Blackout, Imperial Meltdown, Prophetic Fightback,” on August 29, 2017.

On “Place” and Charlottesville
August 14, 2017

Pay attention to the history of “Place”. What I find largely missing in the critical commentary about the terrible events in Charlottesville is the fact that this is the town and university where Thomas Jefferson, one of our Founding Fathers lived, wrote, owned slaves and produced mixed race offspring—largely based on his white raced privilege. Jefferson's language of “all men are created equal,” often quoted in the last several days, did not mean Africans or African Americans or Native Americans for that matter—nor Mixed Race people for that matter. That the riot (if Blacks had been the majority participants would this be referred to now as a “race riot?”) and killing of Heather Heyer took place in this Virginia town also points us back to this historical place as one place of the OFFICIAL origins of white supremacy in the United States. Paying attention to the “history of place” leads us to think harder about how old, deep and intractable white supremacy is, in the US story.

Carrasco Weighs in: Reza Aslan's CNN Offering Disappoints
April 13, 2017

Davíd Carrasco lecturing

The Huffington Post published an account of Davíd Carrasco's response to an episode of Reza Aslan's show Believers on CNN.

Carrasco dialogues with biologist Brian Farrell about the nature of consciousness.
March 27, 2017

Carrasco appears in an article in the Harvard Gazette following biologist Brian D. Farrell's lecture at the Harvard Museum of Natural History exploring the roots of consciousness.

Video of the lecture is on Facebook. Carrasco's remarks begin at 1:07:45

Carrasco Event with Cornel West Now Available on YouTube
March 15, 2017

Some years ago African American philosopher Cornel West and Mexican American historian Davíd Carrasco met at Sanders Theater, Harvard University, to forge a public dialogue about “Brown and Black” social and intellectual partnerships to help the “new demography become a better democracy.” This phrase, made popular by Carrasco, and its possibilities are under aggressive political and psychological attack by changing policies and familiar forces in the US. Therefore the Black and Brown dialogues, alliances, and organizing between African American and Latino peoples are needed more than ever. Watching these videos will help the partnership develop in elevating and fruitful ways.

Whose Eyes on What Prize: A Black and Brown Discussion of Shades of Invisibility

Texas Recognizes Santos and His Work with Carrasco
February 19, 2017

John Phillip Santos wins Texas Medal of the Arts and shares his work with Davíd Carrasco on the lost Aztec Mapa.

Before there was Flint, Michigan…
November 29, 2016

Davíd Carrasco's ties to Smeltertown, El Paso noted in feature article by Lauren Villagran in OnEarth, the Natural Resources Defense Council's online magazine.

Mexico's Sacred Migrant: The Virgin of Guadalupe as Image and Immigrant
November 3, 2016

Davíd Carrasco to speak (event details) at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, November 3rd at Youngstown State University as part of the Dr. Thomas and Albert Shipka Speakers Series.

Davíd Talks Trump in the Harvard Gazette
September, 2016

In an interview with Liz Minea, Davíd Carrasco gives his thoughts on the history of U.S.–Mexico relations, examining the Trump candidacy in context.

Read Davíd Carrasco's tribute to his father on this Father's Day.
June, 2016
April, 2016

The research of a former student of Davíd Carrasco has been featured in the Christian Science Monitor. Carrasco's insights in the role human sacrifice in the underpinnings of civilization first published in Carrasco's City of Sacrifice were inspirational to the interpretation featured in the article.

Davíd Carrasco featured in sensational new exhibit on sacred sound and ocarinas at Harvard's Peabody Museum
March, 2016

Large enough to cover its player's face like a mask, this ocarina was probably used for parades.
Photograph © President and Fellows of Harvard College, Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology

The exhibit is a result, in part, of Carrasco's collaboration with the anthropologist/musician Dr José Cuellar who brought these ocarinas and flutes back to sonic life during his semester long work as a Hrdy Fellow at the Peabody.

Carrasco to present the 2015-2016 Andrew Norman Guest Lecture at Colorado College
January, 2016

Carrasco, on January 20th (click here for details), will give an illustrated lecture at Colorado College entitled “Sacred Icon, Sacred Hill: La Virgen de Guadalupe as Migrant Mother and Sacred Bundle” on two types of Mexican sacrality—the ubiquitous image of La Virgen de Guadalupe and the sacred place of Tepeyac where her apparitions first occurred.

Toni Morrison & Gabriel Garcia Márquez—Carrasco Reflects on How They Met in the Gazette
December, 2015

The Gazette recently asked six Harvard professors to discuss their favorite objects. Carrasco took the opportunity to recall a trip to Mexico where he introduced Nobel Prize winners Toni Morrison and Gabriel Garcia Márquez with the help of Carlos Fuentes.

Carrasco at the University of Chicago—Full Audio
November, 2015

Hear David Carrasco, University of Chicago Divinity School's Alumnus of the Year (2014) hold forth about the formation of his own thought as an Historian of Religion working in Mesoamerican cities and symbols. Carrasco tells the story of how he created his distinctive “ensemble” approach by running his own threads of thinking and emotion through the works of the Romanian Mircea Eliade, the African American Charles Long, Mexican poet Octavio Paz and British urban ecologist Paul Wheatley. Follow his storytelling about how his Mexican American identity prepared him to travel with Toni Morrison to Mexico City to meet with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Its worth a listen for as the actor Peter Fonda once said when he heard Carrasco speak at the Santa Fe Film Festival, “I wish I could speak like you. I can only act like I can speak like you!”

Harvard student body singles out Carrasco
February, 2014 (updated April, 2015)

Davíd was chosen as “one of the favorite Harvard professors” by the Harvard Class of 2014.

Read the full text of Davíd's letter to the class of 2014 to be printed in their yearbook.

Update: Download the letter as printed in the yearbook.

October 27, 2014

Tufts University Chaplaincy and the Association for College and University Religious Affairs welcomed Davíd Carrasco, Neil L. Rudenstine Professor of the Study of Latin America at Harvard University, to campus as a keynote speaker for the annual ACURA Conference 2014. He discussed what he calls the “Latino Springtime,” particularly the migration of religious and cultural practices from Latin America and among Latinos.

Watch the video online here.

December 15, 2014

Description from the author:

“After almost 30 years, my photos of scholars who participated in the annual symposia sponsored by the Moses Mesoamerican Archive and Research Project (MMARP) have been made available in the book: Scholars in Dark Glasses. Photos of MMARP Symposia 1982 to 1994.

“Photos are of the archaeologists, anthropologists, ethnographers, historians of religions, art historians, historians, archaeo-astronomers, and many others from Mexico, the US, Japan, UK, and Europe who contributed to the development of a new direction in the study of the life and religious practices of the Aztecs, Maya, and other ancient civilizations of Mesoamerica.”

“The photos selected for the book are from the Lawrence Gustave Desmond Mesoamerican Archive and Research Project Photographs collection archived by the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles (GRI Special Collections accession number 2014.R.16)”

Scholars in Dark Glasses

See the Scholars in Dark Glasses on the publisher's web site.

October 30, 2014

Dr. Carrasco was the subject of a featured profile in this month's EPIC magazine, the magazine of the Independent Physicians Association.

Read the article as a PDF.

October 29, 2014

Russell Banks, whose work has distilled blue-collar dreams into moving, sometimes violent, portraits of struggle and loss, will deliver Harvard Divinity School's 2014 Ingersoll Lecture on Immortality Nov. 5 at Sanders Theatre. Read more...

October 19, 2014

Jorge I. Domínguez, the Antonio Madero Professor for the Study of Mexico and University vice provost for international affairs, acknowledges and puts Carassco's work on the Mapa de Cuauhtinchan No. 2 in context.

Harvard's Mexico Connections in the Harvard Gazette
October 3, 2014

The first in a series on Harvard's longstanding ties to Mexico by Corydon Ireland discusses Davíd Carrasco's contribution including a course he's co-teaching with William L. Fash Jr. called “Moctezuma's Mexico: Then and Now.”

Read Harvard's Mexico Connections in the Harvard Gazette.

Archaeology Magazine Cover Story Features Carrasco Interview
July-August, 2014

Contributing Editor of Archaeology magazine, Roger Atwood, interviewed Dr. Carrasco in 2012. The resultant article was published in the July-August issue of Archaeology Magazine and relies on Carrasco's contributions.

Read the Archaeology Magazine cover story: Under Mexico City.

Carrasco's article The Paradox of Carnival in Harvard's ReVista
April, 2014

Find Carrasco's article The Paradox of Carnival in the Spring edition of ReVista: Harvard Review of Latin America.

Carrasco featured in Harvard Magazine
April, 2014

Carrasco's teaching is featured in this Harvard Magazine article on active learning.

Carrasco featured in The New Yorker magazine
December 23, 2013

Davíd Carrasco is featured on page 91 of James Carroll's profile of Pope Francis Who Am I to Judge in the December 23, 2013 issue of the New Yorker.

In a series of interviews and speeches in the first few months after his election, in March, Pope Francis unilaterally declared a kind of truce in the culture wars that have divided the Vatican and much of the world. Repeatedly, he argued that the Catholic Church's purpose was more to proclaim God’s merciful love for all people than to condemn sinners for having fallen short of strictures, especially those having to do with gender and sexual orientation. His break from his immediate predecessors is less ideological than intuitive, an inclusive vision of the Church centered on an identification with the poor.

University of Chicago names Davíd Carrasco Alumnus of the Year 2014
January 2014

From the University of Chicago:
Every year, the Baptist Theological Union presents the Divinity School Alum of the Year Award to a Divinity School graduate. The award recipient is chosen with the following criteria in mind: excellence of work and continued contributions to the person's field; recognition and influence beyond the person's immediate sphere; and embodiment of the Divinity School's goals and values, and the range and extent of its educational programs.

Our 2014 Alumnus of the Year is Davíd Carrasco (ThM 1970, MA 1974, PhD in the History of Religions area, 1977). He will give his Alumnus of the Year address on Thursday, April 24, 2014, at 4:30 p.m. in Swift Lecture Hall with a reception to follow. He will also deliver, at noon that same day, the Spring Quarter Dean’s Craft of Teaching Seminar.

Read the complete announcement.

Corporation for Public Broadcasting to fund 3 hour Documentary on Mexican cultural contributions
January 2014
Carrasco will be involved in the production of a Cruce de Caminos 2–3 hour documentary on Mexican cultural contributions. The project recently announced a development grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Carrasco and Fuentes in the Boston Globe
May 23, 2012
Carrasco's The legacy of Carlos Fuentes in the Boston Globe.
Mexico honors Carrasco as “a man of our time”
December 16, 2004

Davíd Carrasco lecturing at the School of American Research in Santa Fe, New Mexico
From the Harvard Gazette: Davíd Carrasco, Neil L. Rudenstine Professor for the Study of Latin America at Harvard Divinity School (HDS) [with a joint appointment with the Department of Anthropology in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences] and director of the Moses Mesoamerican Archive and Research Project (located in the Peabody Museum, the oldest museum of archaeology and ethnology in the U.S.), has received the highest decoration the Mexican government can bestow on a foreign national, the Orden Mexicana del Aguila Azteca (Order of the Aztec Eagle). Calling Carrasco “'a man of our time', a man of enormous vitality and value,” Carlos de Icaza, the Ambassador of Mexico, decorated Carrasco at a ceremony held at the Mexican Cultural Institute in Washington, D.C., Thursday (Dec. 9).

May 10, 1999
Princeton Weekly Bulletin publishes Existential Oomph, a portrait of Carrasco through the telling of how a cross-disciplinary collaboration brought some Mesoamerican potsherds and ruins to life.