Departing from the political economy perspective taken by the vast majority of volumes devoted to Mesoamerican obsidian, Obsidian Reflections is an examination of obsidian's sociocultural dimensions—particularly in regard to Mesoamerican world view, religion, and belief systems.
Exploring the materiality of this volcanic glass rather than only its functionality, this book considers the interplay among people, obsidian, and meaning and how these relationships shaped patterns of procurement, exchange, and use. An international group of scholars hailing from Belize, France, Japan, Mexico, and the United States provides a variety of case studies from Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and Honduras. The authors draw on archaeological, iconographic, ethnographic, and ethnohistoric data to examine obsidian as a touchstone for cultural meaning, including references to sacrificial precepts, powerful deities, landscape, warfare, social relations, and fertility.
Obsidian Reflections underscores the necessity of understanding obsidian from within its cultural context—the perspective of the indigenous people of Mesoamerica. It will be of great interest to Mesoamericanists as well as students and scholars of lithic studies and material culture.
A Mesoamerican travel book from two perspectives and two centuries.
In 1839 John Lloyd Stephens, then 31 years old, and his traveling companion, artist Frederick Catherwood, disappeared into the vast rain forest of eastern Guatemala. They had heard rumors that remains of a civilization of incomparable artistic and cultural merit were moldering in the steamy lowland jungles. They braved Indian uprisings, road agents, heat, and biting insects to eventually encounter what is today known as the lost civilization of the Maya.
In 1841 Stephens published Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatan to instant acclaim with both American and international audiences. His conversational style was fresh and crisp and his subject matter, the search for lost cities on the Central American isthmus, was romantic and adventurous. Stephens's book has been characterized as the "great American nonfiction narrative of the 19th century." Indeed, what Stephens wrote about the Maya makes a major contribution to Maya studies.
Steve Glassman retraces Stephens's route, visiting the same archaeological sites, towns, markets, and churches and meeting along the way the descendants of those people Stephens described, from mestizo en route to the cornfields to town elders welcoming the Norte Americanos. Glassman's work interlaces discussion of the history, natural environment, and architecture of the region with descriptions of the people who live and work there. Glassman compares his 20th-century experience with Stephens's 19th-century exploration, gazing in awe at the same monumental pyramids, eating similar foods, and avoiding the political clashes that disrupt the governments and economies of the area.
Stephens's books are still widely available, but his importance to literary professionals has been overlooked. With this new travelogue, Glassman reaffirms Stephens's reputation and brings his work to wider critical and public attention.
Opera and its Voices in Utah
Walter Rudolph Utah State University Press, 2018 Library of Congress F1219.3.W94I54 2018 | Dewey Decimal 972.01
In volume 23 of the Arrington Lecture Series, Walter B. Rudolph explores Utah’s operatic history. There is no other written history of opera in Utah and while references are random, they can be consistently found. The list of visiting operatic artists to the Beehive state is imposing, even extraordinary, and equally unexpected is the diversity of standard repertoire and those works unique to, or composed about, Utah. In turn, Utah’s operatic assets have given to the world’s arsenal of singers and created an audience of unique proportions.
The Arrington Lecture series, established by one of the twentieth-century West's most distinguished historians, Leonard Arrington, has become a leading forum for prominent historians to address topics related to Mormon history. Utah State University hosts the Leonard J. Arrington Mormon History Lecture Series through the Merrill-Cazier Library Special Collections and Archives department.
In this rich and dynamic work, David Carey Jr. provides a new perspective on contemporary Guatemalan history by allowing the indigenous peoples to speak for themselves.
Combining the methodologies of anthropology and history, Carey uses both oral interviews and meticulous archival research to construct a history of the last 130 years in Guatemala from the perspective of present-day Mayan people. His research took place over five years, including intensive language study, four summers of fieldwork, and a year-long residence in Comalapa, during which he conducted most of the 414 interviews. By casting a wide net for his interviews—from tiny hamlets to bustling Guatemala City—Carey gained insight into more than a single community or a single group of Maya.
The Maya-Kaqchikel record their history through oral tradition; thus, few written accounts exist. Comparing the Kaqchikel point of view to that of the western scholars and Ladinos who have written most of the history texts, Carey reveals the people and events important to the Maya, which have been virtually written out of the national history.
A motto of the Guatemalan organization Maya Decinio para el Pueblo Indigena (Maya Decade for the Indigenous People) is that people who do not know their past cannot build a future. By elucidating what the Kaqchikel think of their own past, Carey also illuminates the value of non-Western theoretical and methodological approaches that can be applied to the history of other peoples. Valuable to historians, anthropologists, archaeologists, or anyone interested in Mayan and Latin American studies, this book will inform as well as enchant.
Guatemala’s “Ten Years of Spring” (1944–1954) began when citizens overthrew a military dictatorship and ushered in a remarkable period of social reform. This decade of progressive policies ended abruptly when a coup d’état, backed by the United States at the urging of the United Fruit Company, deposed a democratically elected president and set the stage for a period of systematic human rights abuses that endured for generations. Presenting the research of diverse anthropologists and historians, Out of the Shadow offers a new examination of this pivotal chapter in Latin American history.
Marshaling information on regions that have been neglected by other scholars, such as coastlines dominated by people of African descent, the contributors describe an era when Guatemalan peasants, Maya and non-Maya alike, embraced change, became landowners themselves, diversified agricultural production, and fully engaged in electoral democracy. Yet this volume also sheds light on the period’s atrocities, such as the US Public Health Service’s medical experimentation on Guatemalans between 1946 and 1948. Rethinking institutional memories of the Cold War, the book concludes by considering the process of translating memory into possibility among present-day urban activists.