Laurette Séjourné

Laurette Séjourné (October 19, 1911 – May 25, 2003) was a Mexican archeologist and ethnologist best known for her study of the civilizations of Teotihuacan and the Aztecs and her theories concerning the Mesoamerican culture hero, Quetzalcoatl.

Laurette Séjourné was born in Perugia, Italy, as Laura Valentini Corsa,[1] although one also finds her mentioned as Laura Bianchi.[2] Little is known about her early years; even her precise birth date is rarely mentioned.[3] In her prime youth, she appears to have moved to France, perhaps in connection with the fascist take-over of 1922; in later life, she still wrote in French. She married a Frenchman, Séjourné, and participated in cultural life and the world of the cinema, meeting such figures as André Breton and Jean Cocteau. Strongly politicized like many others at the times, she divorced her husband,[4] and left occupied France in exile for Mexico, in 1941. There, she became a naturalized Mexican citizen and married another exile, the Russian novelist and revolutionary known as Victor Serge (Viktor Kibalchich or Kibaltchitch, 1890-1947).[5] Soon after his death, she joined the Mexican Communist Party.[6] Later, she remarried with Arnaldo Orfila, director of the Fondo de Cultura Económica and founder of Siglo XXI Editores.

Séjourné’s militant spirit can be captured from a passage like the following one:[7]

[In] spite of extreme demographic density and the lack of machinery and work animals, the members of Precolumbian societies enjoyed physical health, individual independence, security, some leisure, which implies a distribution of resources and an integration to the collectivity that in our days would seem a utopia. From all of this follows that if we refuse to analyze the invasion that destroyed a civilized world and laid the seed of a system in which hunger, humiliation, and bloody repression constitute the only form of survivorship, contemporary underdevelopment should be a result of congenital incapacity, of the irremediable racial inferiority that justified extermination and vassalage.

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