"La Última Pena , Five Centuries of Capital Punishment in Mexico" opens to the public at the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection on Wednesday, April 14, 9:00 to 10:45 a.m., in the Rare Books Reading Room, SRH 1.101. The exhibit's inauguration accompanies a binational symposium analyzing how the death penalty has affected Mexican history, its constitution and the bilateral relationship between Texas and Mexico.
The exhibit and the symposium, sponsored by the Mexican Center of the University of Texas at Austin, sheds light on how Mexicans have sought to impose or withhold death as punishment. Patrick Timmons, co-curator and doctoral student in history, will explain the research materials drawn from the Benson Latin American Collection in the meeting's opening session.
The exhibit features facsimiles of indigenous texts created prior to European expansion in the New World, rare editions of Spanish laws such as Las siete partidas (1587), first editions of the 1857 and 1917 Mexican constitutions and manuscripts of nineteenth-century Mexican politicians disputing the value of capital punishment. Newspaper and other printed materials in the exhibit underscore the continuing debate on the death penalty in Mexican and U.S. relations.
The Benson Collection hallway gallery displays thirty-six selections in facsimile from El libro rojo, one of the most famous books regarding executions and crimes in Mexico from 1520 to 1867. Published in 1870 by two leading writers and politicians, the celebrated Vicente Riva Palacio and Manuel Payno, The Red Book is both commemoration and celebration of the restoration of the republic after Maximilian's tragic emperorship (1864-1867). Artists Hesiquio Iriarte and Santiago Hernández portrayed infamous drownings, executions, suicides and other mournful and strange events during Mexico's civil and foreign wars.
The exhibit, co-curated by Michael Hironymous of the Benson Collection Rare Books staff, will remain on view through the end of summer 2004. The Benson Latin American Collection, Sid Richardson Hall 1.101, is on the east side of campus at the northwest corner of Red River and Clyde Littlefield Drive (formerly Manor Road). Parking is available in Lot 38 adjacent to Sid Richardson Hall and entered through Red River Street.
The Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection, a unit of the General Libraries, embodies more than seventy-five years of the University of Texas at Austin's commitment to create and maintain a specialized research library dedicated to the culture and history of Latin America. The internationally recognized Benson Latin American Collection acquires and provides access to materials on Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean and the Hispanic presence in the United States.
Assistant Head Librarian
Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection
UT Austin, TX 78712
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