This exceptional collection revisits the aftermath of the 1954 coup that ousted the democratically elected Guatemalan president Jacobo Arbenz. Contributors frame the impact of 1954 not only in terms of the liberal reforms and coffee revolutions of the nineteenth century, but also in terms of post-1954 U.S. foreign policy and the genocide of the 1970s and 1980s. This volume is of particular interest in the current era of the United States' re-emerging foreign policy based on preemptive strikes and a presumed clash of civilizations.
Recent research and the release of newly declassified U.S. government documents underscore the importance of reading Guatemala's current history through the lens of 1954. Scholars and researchers who have worked in Guatemala from the 1940s to the present articulate how the coup fits into ethnographic representations of Guatemala. Highlighting the voices of individuals with whom they have lived and worked, the contributors also offer an unmatched understanding of how the events preceding and following the coup played out on the ground.
Contributors are Abigail E. Adams, Richard N. Adams, David Carey Jr., Christa Little-Siebold, Judith M. Maxwell, Victor D. Montejo, June C. Nash, and Timothy J. Smith.
Ancient Maya Commerce presents nearly two decades of multidisciplinary research at Chunchucmil, Yucatan, Mexico—a thriving Classic period Maya center organized around commercial exchange rather than agriculture. An urban center without a king and unable to sustain agrarian independence, Chunchucmil is a rare example of a Maya city in which economics, not political rituals, served as the engine of growth. Trade was the raison d’être of the city itself.
Using a variety of evidence—archaeological, botanical, geomorphological, and soil-based—contributors show how the city was a major center for both short- and long-distance trade, integrating the Guatemalan highlands, the Gulf of Mexico, and the interior of the northern Maya lowlands. By placing Chunchucmil into the broader context of emerging research at other Maya cities, the book reorients the understanding of ancient Maya economies. The book is accompanied by a highly detailed digital map that reveals the dense population of the city and the hundreds of streets its inhabitants constructed to make the city navigable, shifting the knowledge of urbanism among the ancient Maya.
Ancient Maya Commerce is a pioneering, thoroughly documented case study of a premodern market center and makes a strong case for the importance of early market economies in the Maya region. It will be a valuable addition to the literature for Mayanists, Mesoamericanists, economic anthropologists, and environmental archaeologists.
Contributors: Anthony P. Andrews, Traci Ardren, Sheryl Luzzadder-Beach, Timothy Beach, Chelsea Blackmore, Tara Bond-Freeman, Bruce H. Dahlin, Patrice Farrell, David Hixson, Socorro Jimenez, Justin Lowry, Aline Magnoni, Eugenia Mansell, Daniel E. Mazeau, Travis Stanton, Ryan V. Sweetwood, Richard E. Terry
Human activity during centuries of occupation significantly altered the landscape inhabited by the ancient Maya of northwestern Belize. In response, the Maya developed new techniques to harvest the natural resources of their surroundings, investing increased labor and raw materials into maintaining and even improving their ways of life. In this lively story of life in the wetlands on the outskirts of the major site of La Milpa, Julie Kunen documents a hitherto unrecognized form of intensive agriculture in the Maya lowlands—one that relied on the construction of terraces and berms to trap soil and moisture around the margins of low-lying depressions called bajos. She traces the intertwined histories of residential settlements on nearby hills and ridges and agricultural terraces and other farming-related features around the margins of the bajo as they developed from the Late Preclassic perios (400 BC-AD 250) until the area's abandonment in the Terminal Classic period (about AD 850). Kunen examines the organization of three bajo communities with respect to the use and management of resources critical to agricultural production. She argues that differences in access to spatially variable natural resources resulted in highly patterned settlement remains and that community founders and their descendents who had acquired the best quality and most diverse set of resources maintained an elevated status in the society. The thorough integration of three lines of evidence—the settlement system, the agricultural system, and the ancient environment—breaks new ground in landscape research and in the study of Maya non-elite domestic organization. Kunen reports on the history of settlement and farming in a small corner of the Maya world but demonstrates that for any study of human-environment interactions, landscape history consists equally of ecological and cultural strands of influence.
Trading was the favorite occupation of the Maya, according to early Spanish observers such as Fray Diego de Landa (1566). Yet scholars of the Maya have long dismissed trade—specifically, market exchange—as unimportant. They argue that the Maya subsisted primarily on agriculture, with long-distance trade playing a minor role in a largely non-commercialized economy.
The Ancient Maya Marketplace reviews the debate on Maya markets and offers compelling new evidence for the existence and identification of ancient marketplaces in the Maya Lowlands. Its authors rethink the prevailing views about Maya economic organization and offer new perspectives. They attribute the dearth of Maya market research to two factors: persistent assumptions that Maya society and its rainforest environment lacked complexity, and an absence of physical evidence for marketplaces—a problem that plagues market research around the world.
Many Mayanists now agree that no site was self-sufficient, and that from the earliest times robust local and regional exchange existed alongside long-distance trade. Contributors to this volume suggest that marketplaces, the physical spaces signifying the presence of a market economy, did not exist for purely economic reasons but served to exchange information and create social ties as well.
The Ancient Maya Marketplace offers concrete links between Maya archaeology, ethnohistory, and contemporary cultures. Its in-depth review of current research will help future investigators to recognize and document marketplaces as a long-standing Maya cultural practice. The volume also provides detailed comparative data for premodern societies elsewhere in the world.
In Mexico’s southeastern frontier state of Quintana Roo, game animals and other creatures that depend on old-growth forest are disappearing in the face of habitat destruction and overhunting. Traditionally, the Yucatec Maya have regarded animals as fellow members of a wider society, and in their religion animals enjoy the status of spiritual beings. But in recent years, the breakdown of cultural restraints on hunting has spiraled so far out of control that almost everything edible within easy reach of a road has become fair game.
This book combines the insights of an anthropologist with the hands-on experience of a Maya campesino with the aim of improving the management of Quintana Roo’s wild lands and animal resources. E. N. Anderson and Felix Medina Tzuc pool their knowledge to document Yucatec Maya understanding and use of animals and to address practical matters related to wider conservation issues.
Although the Yucatec Maya’s ethnobotany has been well documented, until now little has been recorded about their animal lore. Anderson and Medina Tzuc have compiled a wealth of information about traditional knowledge of animals in this corner of the Maya world. They have recorded most of the terms widely used for several hundred categories of animals in west central Quintana Roo, mapped them onto biological categories, and recorded basic information about wildlife management and uses.
The book reflects a wealth of knowledge gathered from individuals regarded as experts on particular aspects of animal management, whether hunting, herding, or beekeeping. It also offers case studies of conservation successes and failures in various communities, pointing to the need for cooperation by the Mexican government and Maya people to save wildlife. Appendixes provide an extensive animal classification and a complete list of all birds identified in the area.
Even though sustainable forestry has finally come to the Yucatán, sustainable game use is practiced by only a few communities. Animals and the Maya in Southeast Mexico is a complete ethnozoology for the region, offered in the hope that it will encourage the recognition of Quintana Roo’s forests and wildlife as no less deserving of protection than ancient Maya cities.
Anthropomorphizing the Cosmos explores the sociocultural significance of more than three hundred Middle Preclassic Maya figurines uncovered at the site of Nixtun-Ch'ich' on Lake Petén Itzá in northern Guatemala. In this careful, holistic, and detailed analysis of the Petén lakes figurines—hand-modeled, terracotta anthropomorphic fragments, animal figures, and musical instruments such as whistles and ocarinas—Prudence M. Rice engages with a broad swath of theory and comparative data on Maya ritual practice.
Presenting original data, Anthropomorphizing the Cosmos offers insight into the synchronous appearance of fired-clay figurines with the emergence of societal complexity in and beyond Mesoamerica. Rice situates these Preclassic Maya figurines in the broader context of Mesoamerican human figural representation, identifies possible connections between anthropomorphic figurine heads and the origins of calendrics and other writing in Mesoamerica, and examines the role of anthropomorphic figurines and zoomorphic musical instruments in Preclassic Maya ritual. The volume shows how community rituals involving the figurines helped to mitigate the uncertainties of societal transitions, including the beginnings of settled agricultural life, the emergence of social differentiation and inequalities, and the centralization of political power and decision-making in the Petén lowlands.
Literature on Maya ritual, cosmology, and specialized artifacts has traditionally focused on the Classic period, with little research centering on the very beginnings of Maya sociopolitical organization and ideological beliefs in the Middle Preclassic. Anthropomorphizing the Cosmos is a welcome contribution to the understanding of the earliest Maya and will be significant to Mayanists and Mesoamericanists as well as nonspecialists with interest in these early figurines
The Pacific coast and southern highlands of Chiapas and Guatemala is a region significant to debates about the origins of social complexity, interaction, and colonialism. The area, however, has received uneven attention and much of what we know is largely restricted to the Preclassic period. This theoretically eclectic volume presents greater temporal coverage, is geographically unified, and engages some of the most important questions of each period through a discussion of the archaeology of identity.
Chapters range from traditional assessments of identity to discussion of practice and relational personhood; all share a concern for how archaeology and ethnohistory provide opportunities and challenges in the reconstruction of identities. The region is one with a multifaceted history of interactions between local populations and those from other parts of Mesoamerica. Linguistic diversity, landscape, and artistic representations have added to the complexities of understanding identity formation here. Rather than providing a unified voice on the issues, Archaeology and Identity on the Pacific Coast and Southern Highlands of Mesoamerica is a dialogue presented through case studies, one that will hopefully encourage future research in this complex and little understood region of Mesoamerica.
Archaeology at El Perú-Waka’ is the first book to summarize long-term research at this major Maya site. The results of fieldwork and subsequent analyses conducted by members of the El Perú-Waka’ Regional Archaeological Project are coupled with theoretical approaches treating the topics of ritual, memory, and power as deciphered through material remains discovered at Waka’. The book is site-centered, yet the fifteen wide-ranging contributions offer readers greater insight to the richness and complexity of Classic-period Maya culture, as well as to the ways in which archaeologists believe ancient peoples negotiated their ritual lives and comprehended their own pasts.
El Perú-Waka’ is an ancient Maya city located in present-day northwestern Petén, Guatemala. Rediscovered by petroleum exploration workers in the mid-1960s, it is the largest known archaeological site in the Laguna del Tigre National Park in Guatemala’s Maya Biosphere Reserve. The El Perú-Waka’ Regional Archaeological Project initiated scientific investigations in 2003, and through excavation and survey, researchers established that Waka’ was a key political and economic center well integrated into Classic-period lowland Maya civilization, and reconstructed many aspects of Maya life and ritual activity in this ancient community. The research detailed in this volume provides a wealth of new, substantive, and scientifically excavated data, which contributors approach with fresh theoretical insights. In the process, they lay out sound strategies for understanding the ritual manipulation of monuments, landscapes, buildings, objects, and memories, as well as related topics encompassing the performance and negotiation of power throughout the city’s extensive sociopolitical history.
This volume illuminates human lifeways in the northern Maya lowlands prior to the rise of Chichén Itzá. This period and area have been poorly understood on their own terms, obscured by scholarly focus on the central lowland Maya kingdoms. Before Kukulkán is anchored in three decades of interdisciplinary research at the Classic Maya capital of Yaxuná, located at a contentious crossroads of the northern Maya lowlands.
Using bioarchaeology, mortuary archaeology, and culturally sensitive mainstream archaeology, the authors create an in-depth regional understanding while also laying out broader ways of learning about the Maya past. Part 1 examines ancient lifeways among the Maya at Yaxuná, while part 2 explores different meanings of dying and cycling at the settlement and beyond: ancestral practices, royal entombment and desecration, and human sacrifice. The authors close with a discussion of the last years of occupation at Yaxuná and the role of Chichén Itzá in the abandonment of this urban center.
Before Kukulkán provides a cohesive synthesis of the evolving roles and collective identities of locals and foreigners at the settlement and their involvement in the region’s trajectory. Theoretically informed and contextualized discussions offer unique glimpses of everyday life and death in the socially fluid Maya city. These findings, in conjunction with other documented series of skeletal remains from this region, provide a nuanced picture of the social and biocultural dynamics that operated successfully for centuries before the arrival of the Itzá.
Over the latter half of the twentieth century, the Guatemalan state slaughtered more than two hundred thousand of its citizens. In the wake of this violence, a vibrant pan-Mayan movement has emerged, one that is challenging Ladino (non-indigenous) notions of citizenship and national identity. In The Blood of Guatemala Greg Grandin locates the origins of this ethnic resurgence within the social processes of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century state formation rather than in the ruins of the national project of recent decades. Focusing on Mayan elites in the community of Quetzaltenango, Grandin shows how their efforts to maintain authority over the indigenous population and secure political power in relation to non-Indians played a crucial role in the formation of the Guatemalan nation. To explore the close connection between nationalism, state power, ethnic identity, and political violence, Grandin draws on sources as diverse as photographs, public rituals, oral testimony, literature, and a collection of previously untapped documents written during the nineteenth century. He explains how the cultural anxiety brought about by Guatemala’s transition to coffee capitalism during this period led Mayan patriarchs to develop understandings of race and nation that were contrary to Ladino notions of assimilation and progress. This alternative national vision, however, could not take hold in a country plagued by class and ethnic divisions. In the years prior to the 1954 coup, class conflict became impossible to contain as the elites violently opposed land claims made by indigenous peasants. This “history of power” reconsiders the way scholars understand the history of Guatemala and will be relevant to those studying nation building and indigenous communities across Latin America.
During the last 20 years new techniques in osteology have yielded findings on Maya diet and health that challenge the ecological model of collapse. This volume, which includes an index bibliography of the first 150 years of Maya osteology, brings together for the first time a broad spectrum of bioarchaeologists and reveals remarkable data on Maya genetic relationship, demographic, and diseases.
Contributors: Carl Armstrong, Jane E. Buikstra , Diane Z. Chase
Mark N. Cohen , Della Collins Cook, Marie Elaine Danforth, Andres del Angel
Robert E. Ferrell, John P. Gerry, Karen D. Gettelman, Lorena M. Havill, Keith P. Jacobi, Harold W. Krueger, Nora M. Lopez Olivares, Lourdes Marquez, Virginia K. Massey, D. Andrew Merriwether, Kathleen O'Connor, K. Anne Pyburn, David M. Reed, Frank P. Saul, Julie Mather Saul, D. Gentry Steele, Rebecca Storey, Diane M. Warren, David Webster, Christine D. White, Stephen L. Whittington, Lori E. Wright
In The Brink of Freedom David Kazanjian revises nineteenth-century conceptions of freedom by examining the ways black settler colonists in Liberia and Mayan rebels in Yucatán imagined how to live freely. Focusing on colonial and early national Liberia and the Caste War of Yucatán, Kazanjian interprets letters from black settlers in apposition to letters and literature from Mayan rebels and their Creole antagonists. He reads these overlooked, multilingual archives not for their descriptive content, but for how they unsettle and recast liberal forms of freedom within global systems of racial capitalism. By juxtaposing two unheralded and seemingly unrelated Atlantic histories, Kazanjian finds remarkably fresh, nuanced, and worldly conceptions of freedom thriving amidst the archived everyday. The Brink of Freedom’s speculative, quotidian globalities ultimately ask us to improvise radical ways of living in the world.
In 2006, the University Press of Colorado published The Carnegie Maya: The Carnegie Institution of Washington Maya Research Program, 1913–1957. This volume made available once again to scholars the extensive data published in the CIW Year Book series. The Carnegie Maya II: Carnegie Institution of Washington Current Reports, 1952–1957 continues this project by republishing the CIW Current Reports series.
The final CIW field project took place in July of 1950, in the Maya region of Mayapán, where extensive and detailed investigations were conducted for five years. To ensure the rapid dissemination of the results of the Mayapán Project, two series of papers described the work being undertaken and reported the preliminary findings. These were volumes 50 through 57 of the Year Books and numbers 1 through 41 of the Current Reports. A total of forty one Current Reports were published by the Carnegie Institution of Washington from 1952 to 1957. All forty one of these are reproduced in The Carnegie Maya II, accompanied by an introduction by John Weeks, a forward by Marilyn Masson, and a summary table of data compiled by Marilyn Masson regarding artifacts unearthed at Mayapán.
Purchase of the print book comes with free individual access to the Adobe Digital Editions Carnegie Maya Series Ebook, which contains the complete set of The Carnegie Maya, The Carnegie Maya II, The Carnegie Maya III and The Carnegie Maya IV, thus making hundreds of documents from the Carnegie Institution's Maya program available in one source.
The third in a series of volumes intended to republish the primary data and interpretive studies produced by archaeologists and anthropologists in the Maya region under the umbrella of the Carnegie Institute of Washington's Division of Historical Research, The Carnegie Maya III makes available the series Notes on Middle American Archaeology and Ethnology.
The series began in 1940 as an outlet for information that may have been considered too unimportant, brief, or restricted to be submitted for formal publication. However, these notes are often of great interest to the specialists for whom they are designed and to whom their distribution is restricted. The majority of the essays-most of which are on the Maya-are on archaeological subjects, epigraphy, ethnohistory and ethnography, and linguistics. As few original copies of the Notes series are known to exist in U.S. and Canadian libraries, the book will make these essays easily accessible to students, academics, and researchers in the field.
Purchase of the print book comes with free individual access to the Adobe Digital Editions Carnegie Maya Series Ebook, which contains the complete set of The Carnegie Maya, The Carnegie Maya II, The Carnegie Maya III and The Carnegie Maya IV, thus making hundreds of documents from the Carnegie Institution's Maya program available in one source.
The Carnegie Maya IV is the fourth in a series of volumes that make available the primary data and interpretive studies originally produced by archaeologists and anthropologists in the Maya region under the umbrella of the Carnegie Institute of Washington's Division of Historical Research. Collected together here are the Theoretical Approaches to Problems papers, a series that published preliminary conclusions to advance thought processes and stimulate debate. Although two of the three theories published in these reports have since been proven wrong, the theories themselves remain significant because of their impact on the direction of archaeology.
Only a few sets of these three contributions to the Theoretical Approaches to Problems series are known to have survived, making The Carnegie Maya IV an essential reference and research resource.
The corresponding ebook, for individual download, contains the complete set of The Carnegie Maya, The Carnegie Maya II, The Carnegie Maya III and The Carnegie Maya IV, thus making hundreds of documents from the Carnegie Institution's Maya program available in one source.
This complete set of reports from the Carnegie Institution's Maya program collects in one thematically and regionally organized volume hundreds of documents from a foundational New World archaeological project.
The Carnegie Institution of Washington sponsored archaeological, ethnographic, linguistic, and historical investigations in the Maya region of southern Mexico and northern Central America between 1914 and 1957. The institution led the field during that time, with financial support and other resources no university could match.
Dispersed and out-of-print for fifty years, more than 350 reports from the Maya program are now available in this single volume. Reports from the institution's annual Year Books and other materials collected here tell the history of Maya research through firsthand accounts by participating scholars and reveal the progression of Mesoamerican archaeology from avocational interest to scholarly pursuit. Thematic and regional organization of the reports permits readers to monitor development of research concepts. Appendixes list all Carnegie Maya publications, Carnegie personnel, and the archival holdings of Carnegie-derived material at Harvard University, Tulane University, and the University of Chicago.
Purchase of the print book comes with free individual access to the Adobe Digital Editions Carnegie Maya Series Ebook, which contains the complete set of The Carnegie Maya, The Carnegie Maya II, The Carnegie Maya III and The Carnegie Maya IV, thus making hundreds of documents from the Carnegie Institution's Maya program available in one source.
Sequencing the ceramics in Guatemala’s Holmul region has the potential to answer important questions in Maya archaeology. The Holmul region, located in northeastern Guatemala between the central Peten lowlands to the west and the Belize River Valley to the east, encompasses roughly ten square kilometers and contains at least seven major archaeological sites, including two large ceremonial and administrative centers, Holmul and Cival.
The Ceramic Sequence of the Holmul Region, Guatemala illustrates the archaeological ceramics of these prehistoric Maya sites in a study that provides a theoretical starting point for answering questions related to mid- and high-level issues of archaeological method and theory in the Maya area and larger Mesoamerica. The researchers’ ceramic sequence, which uses the method of type:variety-mode classification, spans approximately 1,600 years and encompasses nine ceramic complexes and one sub-complex. The highly illustrated book is formatted as a catalog of the types of ceramics in a chronological framework.
The authors undertook this study with three objectives: to create a temporal-spatial framework for archaeological sites in the politically important Holmul region, to relate this framework to other Maya sites, and to use type:variety-mode data to address specific questions of ancient Maya social practice and process during each ceramic complex.
Specific questions addressed in this volume include the adoption of pottery as early as 800 BC at the sites of Holmul and Cival during the Middle Preclassic period, the creation of the first orange polychrome pottery, the ideological and political influence from sites in Mexico during the Early Classic period, and the demographic and political collapse of lowland Maya polities between AD 800 and AD 830.
Classic Maya Polities of the Southern Lowlands investigates Maya political and social structure in the southern lowlands, assessing, comparing, and interpreting the wide variation in Classic period Maya polity and city composition, development, and integration. Traditionally, discussions of Classic Maya political organization have been dominated by the debate over whether Maya polities were centralized or decentralized. With new, largely unpublished data from several recent archaeological projects, this book examines the premises, strengths, and weaknesses of these two perspectives before moving beyond this long-standing debate and into different territory.
The volume examines the articulations of the various social and spatial components of Maya polity—the relationships, strategies, and practices that bound households, communities, institutions, and dynasties into enduring (or short-lived) political entities. By emphasizing the internal negotiation of polity, the contributions provide an important foundation for a more holistic understanding of how political organization functioned in the Classic period.
Contributors include Francisco Estrada Belli, James L. Fitzsimmons, Sarah E. Jackson, Caleb Kestle, Brigitte Kovacevich, Allan Maca, Damien B. Marken, James Meierhoff, Timothy Murtha, Cynthia Robin, Alexandre Tokovinine, and Andrew Wyatt.
Most treatments of large Classic Maya sites such as Caracol and Tikal regard Maya political organization as highly centralized. Because investigations have focused on civic buildings and elite palaces, however, a critical part of the picture of Classic Maya political organization has been missing.
The contributors to this volume chart the rise and fall of the Classic Maya center of Xunantunich, paying special attention to its changing relationships with the communities that comprised its hinterlands. They examine how the changing relationships between Xunantunich and the larger kingdom of Naranjo affected the local population, the location of their farms and houses, and the range of economic and subsistence activities in which both elites and commoners engaged. They also examine the ways common people seized opportunities and met challenges offered by a changing political landscape.
The rich archaeological data in this book show that incorporating subject communities and people—and keeping them incorporated—was an on-going challenge to ancient Maya rulers. Until now, archaeologists have lacked integrated regional data and a fine-grained chronology in which to document short-term shifts in site occupations, subsistence strategies, and other important practices of the daily life of the Maya. This book provides a revised picture of Maya politics—one of different ways of governing and alliance formation among dominant centers, provincial polities, and hinterland communities.
The Yucatán Peninsula has one of the longest, most multifaceted histories in the Americas. With the arrival of Europeans, native Maya with long and successful cultural and diplomatic traditions of their own had to grapple with outside forces attempting to impose new templates of life and politics on them. Conflict and Carnage in Yucatán provides a rigorously researched study of the vexed and bloody period of 1855 to 1876, during which successive national governments implemented, replaced, and restored liberal policies.
Synthesizing an extensive and heterogeneous range of sources, Douglas W. Richmond covers three tumultuous political upheavals of this period. First, Mexico’s fledgling republic attempted to impose a liberal ideology at odds with traditional Maya culture on Yucatán; then, the French-backed regime of Emperor Maximilian began to reform Yucatán; and, finally, the republican forces of Benito Juárez restored the liberal hegemony. Many issues spurred resistance to these liberal governments. Instillation of free trade policies, the suppression of civil rights, and persecution of the Roman Catholic Church mobilized white opposition to liberal governors. The Mayas fought the seizure of their communal properties. A long-standing desire for regional autonomy united virtually all Yucatecans. Richmond advances the thought-provoking argument that Yucatán both fared better under Maximilian’s Second Empire than under the liberal republic and would have thrived more had the Second Empire not collapsed.
The most violent and bloody manifestation of these broad conflicts was the Caste War (Guerra de Castas), the longest sustained peasant revolt in Latin American history. Where other scholars have advocated the simplistic position that the war was a Maya uprising designed to reestablish a mythical past civilization, Richmond’s sophisticated recounting of political developments from 1855 to 1876 restores nuance and complexity to this pivotal time in Yucatecan history.
Richmond’s Conflict and Carnage in Yucatán is a welcome addition to scholarship about Mexico and Yucatán as well as about state consolidation, empire, and regionalism.
By contextualizing classes and their kinship behavior within the overall political economy, Crafting Prehispanic Maya Kinship provides an example of how archaeology can help to explain the formation of disparate classes and kinship patterns within an ancient state-level society.
Bradley E. Ensor provides a new theoretical contribution to Maya ethnographic, ethnohistoric, and archaeological research. Rather than operating solely as a symbolic order unobservable to archaeologists, kinship, according to Ensor, forms concrete social relations that structure daily life and can be reflected in the material remains of a society. Ensor argues that the use of cross-culturally identified and confirmed material indicators of postmarital residence and descent group organization enable archaeologists—those with the most direct material evidence on prehispanic Maya social organization—to overturn a traditional reliance on competing and problematic ethnohistorical models.
Using recent data from an arch aeological project within the Chontalpa Maya region of Tabasco, Mexico, Ensor illustrates how archaeologists can interpret and explain the diversity of kinship behavior and its influence on gender within any given Maya social formation.
In Elusive Unity, Armstrong-Fumero examines early twentieth-century peasant politics and twenty-first-century indigenous politics in the rural Oriente region of Yucatán.
The rural inhabitants of this region have had some of their most important dealings with their nation’s government as self-identified “peasants” and “Maya.” Using ethnography, oral history, and archival research, Armstrong-Fumero shows how the same body of narrative tropes has defined the local experience of twentieth-century agrarianism and twenty-first-century multiculturalism.
Through these recycled narratives, contemporary multicultural politics have also inherited some ambiguities that were built into its agrarian predecessor. Specifically, local experiences of peasant and indigenous politics are shaped by tensions between the vernacular language of identity and the intense factionalism that often defines the social organization of rural communities. This significant contribution will be of interest to historians, anthropologists, and political scientists studying Latin America and the Maya.
In The Evolution of Ceramic Production Organization in a Maya Community, Dean E. Arnold continues his unique approach to ceramic ethnoarchaeology, tracing the history of potters in Ticul, Yucatán, and their production space over a period of more than four decades. This follow-up to his 2008 work Social Change and the Evolution of Ceramic Production and Distribution uses narrative to trace the changes in production personnel and their spatial organization through the changes in production organization in Ticul.
Although several kinds of production units developed, households were the most persistent units of production in spite of massive social change and the reorientation of pottery production to the tourist market. Entrepreneurial workshops, government-sponsored workshops, and workshops attached to tourist hotels developed more recently but were short-lived, whereas pottery-making households extended deep into the nineteenth century. Through this continuity and change, intermittent crafting, multi-crafting, and potters' increased management of economic risk also factored into the development of the production organization in Ticul.
Illustrated with more than 100 images of production units, The Evolution of Ceramic Production Organization in a Maya Community is an important contribution to the understanding of ceramic production. Scholars with interests in craft specialization, craft production, and demography, as well as specialists in Mesoamerican archaeology, anthropology, history, and economy, will find this volume especially useful.
Fosters a holistic understanding of the roles of Maya heroic figures as cornerstones of cultural identity and political resistance and power.
In the sixteenth century, Q’eqchi’ Maya leader Aj Poop B’atz’ changed the course of Q’eqchi’ history by welcoming Spanish invaders to his community in peace to protect his people from almost certain violence. Today, he is revered as a powerful symbol of Q’eqchi’ identity. Aj Poop B’atz’ is only one of many indigenous heroes who has been recognized by Maya in Mexico and Guatemala throughout centuries of subjugation, oppression, and state-sponsored violence.
Faces of Resistance: Maya Heroes, Power, and Identity explores the importance of heroes through the analyses of heroic figures, some controversial and alternative, from the Maya area. Contributors examine stories of hero figures as a primary way through which Maya preserve public memory, fortify their identities, and legitimize their place in their country’s historical and political landscape. Leading anthropologists, linguists, historians, and others incorporate ethnographic, ethnohistoric, and archival material into their chapters, resulting in a uniquely interdisciplinary book for scholars as well as students.
The essays offer the first critical survey of the broad significance of these figures and their stories and the ways that they have been appropriated by national governments to impose repressive political agendas. Related themes include the role of heroic figures in the Maya resurgence movement in Guatemala, contemporary Maya concepts of “hero,” and why some assert that all contemporary Maya are heroes.
Fanning the Sacred Flame: Mesoamerican Studies in Honor of H. B. Nicholson contains twenty-two original papers in tribute to H. B. "Nick" Nicholson, a pioneer of Mesoamerican research. His intellectual legacy is recognized by Mesoamerican archaeologists, art historians, ethnohistorians, and ethnographers--students, colleagues, and friends who derived inspiration and encouragement from him throughout their own careers. Each chapter, which presents original research inspired by Nicholson, pays tribute to the teacher, writer, lecturer, friend, and mentor who became a legend within his own lifetime.
Covering all of Mesoamerica across all time periods, contributors include Patricia R. Anawalt, Alfredo López Austin, Anthony Aveni, Robert M. Carmack, David C. Grove, Richard D. Hansen, Leonardo López Luján, Kevin Terraciano, and more. Eloise Quiñones Keber provides a thorough biographical sketch, detailing Nicholson's academic and professional journey. Publication supported, in part, by The Patterson Foundation and several private donors.
David Freidel and Linda Schele’s monumental work A Forest of Kings: The Untold Story of the Ancient Maya (1990) offered an innovative, rigorous, and controversial approach to studying the ancient Maya, unifying archaeological, iconographic, and epigraphic data in a form accessible to both scholars and laypeople. Travis Stanton and Kathryn Brown’s A Forest of History:The Maya after the Emergence of Divine Kingship presents a collection of essays that critically engage with and build upon the lasting contributions A Forest of Kings made to Maya epigraphy, iconography, material culture, and history.
These original papers present new, cutting-edge research focusing on the social changes leading up to the spread of divine kingship across the lowlands in the first part of the Early Classic. The contributors continue avenues of inquiry such as the timing of the Classic Maya collapse across the southern lowlands, the nature of Maya warfare, the notion of usurpation and “stranger-kings” in the Classic period, the social relationships between the ruler and elite of the Classic period Yaxchilán polity, and struggles for sociopolitical dominance among the later Classic period polities of Chichén Itzá, Cobá, and the Puuc kingdoms.
Many of the interpretations and approaches in A Forest of Kings have withstood the test of time, while others have not; a complete understanding of the Classic Maya world is still developing. In A Forest of History recent discoveries are considered in the context of prior scholarship, illustrating both the progress the field has made in the past quarter century and the myriad questions that remain. The volume will be a significant contribution to the literature for students, scholars, and general readers interested in Mesoamerican and Maya archaeology.
Wendy Ashmore, Arlen F. Chase, Diane Z. Chase, Wilberth Cruz Alvarado, Arthur A. Demarest, Keith Eppich, David A. Freidel, Charles W. Golden, Stanley P. Guenter, Annabeth Headrick, Aline Magnoni, Joyce Marcus, Marilyn A. Masson, Damaris Menéndez, Susan Milbrath, Olivia C. Navarro-Farr, José Osorio León, Carlos Peraza Lope, Juan Carlos Pérez Calderón, Griselda Pérez Robles, Francisco Pérez Ruíz, Michelle Rich, Jeremy A. Sabloff, Andrew K. Scherer, Karl A. Taube
In the central highland Maya communities of Guatemala, the demands of the global economy have become a way of life. This book explores how rural peoples experience economic and cultural change as their country joins the global market, focusing on their thoughts about work and sustenance as a way of learning about Guatemala’s changing economy.
For more than a decade, Liliana Goldín observed in highland towns both the intensification of various forms of production and their growing links to wider markets. In this first book to compare economic ideology across a range of production systems, she examines how people make a living and how they think about their options, practices, and constraints. Drawing on interviews and surveys—even retellings of traditional narratives—she reveals how contemporary Maya respond to the increasingly globalized yet locally circumscribed conditions in which they work.
Goldín presents four case studies: cottage industries devoted to garment production, vegetable growing for internal and border markets reached through direct commerce, crops grown for export, and wage labor in garment assembly factories. By comparing generational and gendered differences among workers, she reveals not only complexities of change but also how these complexities arereflected in changing attitudes, understandings, and aspirations that characterize people’s economic ideology. Further, she shows that as rural people take on diverse economic activities, they also reinterpret their views on such matters as accumulation, cooperation, competition, division of labor, and community solidarity.
Global Maya explores global processes in local terms, revealing the interplay of traditional values, household economics, and the inescapable conditions of demographic growth, a shrinking land base, and a global economy always looking for cheap labor. It offers a wealth of new insights not only for Maya scholars but also for anyone concerned with the effects of globalization on the Third World.
In The Great Maya Droughts in Cultural Context, contributors reject the popularized link between societal collapse and drought in Maya civilization, arguing that a series of periodic “collapses,” including the infamous Terminal Classic collapse (AD 750–1050), were not caused solely by climate change–related droughts but by a combination of other social, political, and environmental factors. New and senior scholars of archaeology and environmental science explore the timing and intensity of droughts and provide a nuanced understanding of socio-ecological dynamics, with specific reference to what makes communities resilient or vulnerable when faced with environmental change.Contributors recognize the existence of four droughts that correlate with periods of demographic and political decline and identify a variety of concurrent political and social issues. They argue that these primary underlying factors were exacerbated by drought conditions and ultimately led to societal transitions that were by no means uniform across various sites and subregions. They also deconstruct the concept of “collapse” itself—although the line of Maya kings ended with the Terminal Classic collapse, the Maya people and their civilization survived.
The Great Maya Droughts in Cultural Context offers new insights into the complicated series of events that impacted the decline of Maya civilization. This significant contribution to our increasingly comprehensive understanding of ancient Maya culture will be of interest to students and scholars of archaeology, anthropology, geography, and environmental studies.
This accessible, state-of-the-art review of Mayan hieroglyphics and cosmology also serves as a tribute to one of the field's most noted pioneers.
The core of this book focuses on the current study of Mayan hieroglyphics as inspired by the recently deceased Mayanist Linda Schele. As author or coauthor of more than 200 books or articles on the Maya, Schele served as the chief disseminator of knowledge to the general public about this ancient Mesoamerican culture, similar to the way in which Margaret Mead introduced anthropology and the people of Borneo to the English-speaking world.
Twenty-five contributors offer scholarly writings on subjects ranging from the ritual function of public space at the Olmec site and the gardens of the Great Goddess at Teotihuacan to the understanding of Jupiter in Maya astronomy and the meaning of the water throne of Quirigua Zoomorph P. The workshops on Maya history and writing that Schele conducted in Guatemala and Mexico for the highland people, modern descendants of the Mayan civilization, are thoroughly addressed as is the phenomenon termed "Maya mania"—the explosive growth of interest in Maya epigraphy, iconography, astronomy, and cosmology that Schele stimulated. An appendix provides a bibliography of Schele's publications and a collection of Scheleana, written memories of "the Rabbit Woman" by some of her colleagues and students.
Of interest to professionals as well as generalists, this collection will stand as a marker of the state of Mayan studies at the turn of the 21st century and as a tribute to the remarkable personality who guided a large part of that archaeological research for more than two decades.
How can we effectively interpret and present one culture to another without stereotypes or over-simplifications? What is the best way to present an authoritative version of a national heritage without also endangering ancient sites or being insensitive to the local customs, beliefs, and religious practices of the indigenous peoples?
This volume addresses the ongoing thrust in archaeology to take the next step after preserving the past: interpreting that past for the future. That future audience includes both local citizens and tourists who may have little background in archaeology, anthropology, or the history of the culture featured. Walker presents the key components of the anthropological study of tourism as a global phenomenon, with particular emphasis on the more prominent arguments for how and why tourism is a universal and meaningful human activity. The highly controversial topic of authenticity is examined, with special attention given to how "authentic" has been defined and how it relates to the ways in which archaeological sites, artifacts, and cultural traditions are presented--or not presented--to the visiting public. The ephemeral promise of “authenticity” drives the heritage tourism industry, which is a key consideration for the long term economy of the Maya Riviera and elsewhere. Through analysis of seven archaeological sites on the Yucatan peninsula that are open to heritage touring, Walker reveals the planned growth of the Maya Riviera since the early 1970s and examines the impact of international tourism on both ancient structures and the contemporary Maya people and culture.
The ancient Maya of the southern Yucatán peninsula remain a mystery to many scholars attempting to explain early complex societies. Their dispersed settlement patterns and land-use techniques suggest a decentralized and less coordinated use of resources than is seen in other regions. Yet the Maya managed a complex political economy based on structured landscaping, and over several generations they significantly altered their environment. In recent years the Three Rivers region of Belize and Guatemala has been the site of some of the most intensive archaeological research in the Maya lowlands, providing a wealth of regional data. This volume brings together articles reporting on findings and interpretations of the Programme for Belize Archaeological Project that range over a 10- to 12-year period and that shed new light on how ecology, economy, and political order developed in the ancient past. The contributors explore the applicability of heterarchical models to the Three Rivers region, emphasizing the role of economic interdependency and political cooperation in the development of ancient Maya statecraft. As their findings reflect, this region appears to support a model of resource-specialized communities that affected the region's political and economic development and complexity from the Preclassic through the Late Classic periods. The articles explore the levels of interdependency among the large sites in the region and present a variety of data that emphasize both the engineered landscape and the complex agricultural signatures and ecological indicators left by the Maya. This geographic region captures in microcosm both ecological and cultural differences found in the greater Maya Lowlands. The heterarchical model presented here regarding resource-specialized communities and the interpretations of regional diversity in this area represent a breakthrough in research for the region and will prompt new debate in Maya studies.
John G. Douglass University Press of Colorado, 2002 Library of Congress F1435.D68 2002 | Dewey Decimal 972.83
The rural sector of agrarian societies has historically been viewed as composed of undifferentiated households primarily interested in self-sufficiency. In more recent times, households have been seen as more diverse than previously thought, both internal
In Houses in a Landscape, Julia A. Hendon examines the connections between social identity and social memory using archaeological research on indigenous societies that existed more than one thousand years ago in what is now Honduras. While these societies left behind monumental buildings, the remains of their dead, remnants of their daily life, intricate works of art, and fine examples of craftsmanship such as pottery and stone tools, they left only a small body of written records. Despite this paucity of written information, Hendon contends that an archaeological study of memory in such societies is possible and worthwhile. It is possible because memory is not just a faculty of the individual mind operating in isolation, but a social process embedded in the materiality of human existence. Intimately bound up in the relations people develop with one another and with the world around them through what they do, where and how they do it, and with whom or what, memory leaves material traces.
Hendon conducted research on three contemporaneous Native American civilizations that flourished from the seventh century through the eleventh CE: the Maya kingdom of Copan, the hilltop center of Cerro Palenque, and the dispersed settlement of the Cuyumapa valley. She analyzes domestic life in these societies, from cooking to crafting, as well as public and private ritual events including the ballgame. Combining her findings with a rich body of theory from anthropology, history, and geography, she explores how objects—the things people build, make, use, exchange, and discard—help people remember. In so doing, she demonstrates how everyday life becomes part of the social processes of remembering and forgetting, and how “memory communities” assert connections between the past and the present.
This volume explores the dynamics of human adaptation to social, political, ideological, economic, and environmental factors in Mesoamerica and includes a wide array of topics, such as the hydrological engineering behind Teotihuacan’s layout, the complexities of agriculture and sustainability in the Maya lowlands, and the nuanced history of abandonment among different lineages and households in Maya centers.
The authors aptly demonstrate how culture is the mechanism that allows people to adapt to a changing world, and they address how ecological factors, particularly land and water, intersect with nonmaterial and material manifestations of cultural complexity. Contributors further illustrate the continuing utility of the cultural ecological perspective in framing research on adaptations of ancient civilizations.
This book celebrates the work of Dr. David Webster, an influential Penn State archaeologist and anthropologist of the Maya region, and highlights human adaptation in Mesoamerica through the scientific lenses of anthropological archaeology and cultural ecology.
Contributors include Elliot M. Abrams, Christopher J. Duffy, Susan Toby Evans, Kirk D. French, AnnCorinne Freter, Nancy Gonlin, George R. Milner, Zachary Nelson, Deborah L. Nichols, David M. Reed, Don S. Rice, Prudence M. Rice, Rebecca Storey, Kirk Damon Straight, David Webster, Stephen L. Whittington, Randolph J. Widmer, John D. Wingard, and W. Scott Zeleznik.
In recent years Latin American indigenous groups have regularly deployed the discourse of human rights to legitimate their positions and pursue their goals. Perhaps nowhere is this more evident than in the Maya region of Chiapas and Guatemala, where in the last two decades indigenous social movements have been engaged in ongoing negotiations with the state, and the presence of multinational actors has brought human rights to increased prominence. In this volume, scholars and activists examine the role of human rights in the ways that states relate to their populations, analyze conceptualizations and appropriations of human rights by Mayans in specific localities, and explore the relationship between the individualist and “universal” tenets of Western-derived concepts of human rights and various Mayan cultural understandings and political subjectivities.
The collection includes a reflection on the effects of truth-finding and documenting particular human rights abuses, a look at how Catholic social teaching validates the human rights claims advanced by indigenous members of a diocese in Chiapas, and several analyses of the limitations of human rights frameworks. A Mayan intellectual seeks to bring Mayan culture into dialogue with western feminist notions of women’s rights, while another contributor critiques the translation of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights into Tzeltal, an indigenous language in Chiapas. Taken together, the essays reveal a broad array of rights-related practices and interpretations among the Mayan population, demonstrating that global-local-state interactions are complex and diverse even within a geographically limited area. So too are the goals of indigenous groups, which vary from social reconstruction and healing following years of violence to the creation of an indigenous autonomy that challenges the tenets of neoliberalism.
Contributors: Robert M. Carmack, Stener Ekern, Christine Kovic, Xochitl Leyva Solano, Julián López García, Irma Otzoy, Pedro Pitarch, Álvaro Reyes, Victoria Sanford, Rachel Sieder, Shannon Speed, Rodolfo Stavenhagen, David Stoll, Richard Ashby Wilson
The prevailing view of the lowland Maya during the Postclassic period (A.D. 1050-1500) has been one of an impoverished, "degenerated" society devoid of cultural accomplishment. However, Marilyn A. Masson offers a fresh interpretation of this society as one that represented a complex, sophisticated, extensive organization of semiautonomous units that were closely integrated, yet embraced a decentralized political economy.
In the Realm of Nachan Kan opens a window on Postclassic Maya patterns of cultural development and organization through a close examination of the small rural island of Laguna de On, a location that was distant from the governing political centers of the day. Using diachronic analysis of regional settlement patterns, ceramic traditions, household and ritual features, and artifacts from the site, Masson tracks developmental changes throughout the Postclassic period. These data suggest that affluent patterns of economic production and local and long-distance exchange were established within northern Belize by the eleventh century, and continued to develop, virtually uninterrupted, until the time of Spanish arrival.
In addition, Masson analyzes contemporary political and religious artistic traditions at the temples of Mayapan, Tulum, and Santa Rita to provide a regional context for the changes in community patterns at Laguna de On. These cultural changes, she maintains, are closely correlated with the rise of Mayapan to power and participation of sites like Laguna de On in a pan-lowland economic and ritual interaction sphere. Offering a thoroughly new interpretation of Postclassic Mayan civilization. In the Realm of Nachan Kan is a must for scholars of Mesoamerican history and culture.
Presenting the results of six years of archaeological survey and excavation in and around the Maya kingdom of El Zotz, An Inconstant Landscape paints a complex picture of a dynamic landscape over the course of almost 2,000 years of occupation. El Zotz was a dynastic seat of the Classic period in Guatemala. Located between the renowned sites of Tikal and El Perú-Waka’, it existed as a small kingdom with powerful neighbors and serves today as a test-case of political debility and strength during the height of dynastic struggles among the Classic Maya.
In this volume, contributors address the challenges faced by smaller polities on the peripheries of powerful kingdoms and ask how subordination was experienced and independent policy asserted. Leading experts provide cutting-edge analysis in varied topics and detailed discussion of the development of this major site and the region more broadly. The first half of the volume contains a historical narrative of the cultural sequence of El Zotz, tracing the changes in occupation and landscape use across time; the second half provides deep technical analyses of material evidence, including soils, ceramics, stone tools, and bone.
The ever-changing, inconstant landscapes of peripheral kingdoms like El Zotz reveal much about their more dominant—and better known—neighbors. An Inconstant Landscape offers a comprehensive, multidisciplinary view of this important but under-studied site, an essential context for the study of the Classic Maya in Guatemala, and a premier reference on the subject of peripheral kingdoms at the height of Maya civilization.
Contributors: Timothy Beach, Nicholas Carter, Ewa Czapiewska-Halliday, Alyce de Carteret, William Delgado, Colin Doyle, James Doyle, Laura Gámez, Jose Luis Garrido López, Yeny Myshell Gutiérrez Castillo, Zachary Hruby, Melanie Kingsley, Sheryl Luzzadder-Beach, Cassandra Mesick Braun, Sarah Newman, Rony Piedrasanta, Edwin Román, and Andrew K. Scherer
Calakmul is a large Maya site in the Yucatán Peninsula of southern Mexico, just north of Tikal and the Guatemala border. In the 1980s, Joyce Marcus sketched and photographed the inscriptions on the monuments of Calakmul, in an effort to understand the nature of Maya territorial organization through the hieroglyphic record. Through the inscriptions, she was able to identify a sequence of rulers and royal couples, and their association with temples and other architecture at the site. Foreword by William J. Folan.
Excavations of Maya burial vaults at Palenque, Mexico, half a century ago revealed what was then the most extraordinary tomb finding of the pre-Columbian world; its discovery has been crucial to an understanding of the dynastic history and ideology of the ancient Maya. Over the years, new analytical tools introduced uncertainties regarding earlier interpretations of the findings, and a reanalysis of the remains of the ruler Janaab’ Pakal using contemporary methodologies has led to new interpretations of former accounts of his life and death.
This volume communicates the broad scope of applied interdisciplinary research conducted on the Pakal remains to provide answers to old disputes over the accuracy of both skeletal and epigraphic studies, along with new questions in the field of Maya dynastic research. Contributions by scholars in epigraphy, anthropology, and bioarchaeology bring to light new evidence regarding the ruler’s age, clarify his medical history and the identification of the remains found with him, reevaluate his role in life, and offer modern insights into ritual and sacrificial practices associated with Pakal.
The book leads readers through the history of Pakal’s discovery, skeletal analysis, and interpretation of Maya biographies, and also devotes considerable attention to the tomb of the “Red Queen” discovered at the site. Findings from the new Transition Analysis aging method, histomorphometric analysis, and taphonomic imagery are presented to shed new light on the perplexing question of Pakal’s age at death. Royal Maya life and death histories from the written record are also analyzed from a regional perspective to provide a broad panorama of the twisted power politics of rulers’ families and the entangled genealogies of the Maya Classic period.
A benchmark in biological anthropology, this volume reconsiders assumptions concerning the practices and lives of Maya rulers, posing the prospect that researchers too often find what they expect to find. In presenting an updated study of a well-known personage, it also offers innovative approaches to the biocultural and interdisciplinary re-creation of Maya dynastic history.
Jesper K. Boldseh
Jane E. Buikstra
James H. Burton
George R. Milner
T. Douglas Price
Sam D. Stout
John W. Verano
Kukulcan's Realm chronicles the fabric of socioeconomic relationships and religious practice that bound the Postclassic Maya city of Mayapán's urban residents together for nearly three centuries. Presenting results of ten years of household archaeology at the city, including field research and laboratory analysis, the book discusses the social, political, economic, and ideological makeup of this complex urban center.
Masson and Peraza Lope's detailed overview provides evidence of a vibrant market economy that played a critical role in the city's political and economic success. They offer new perspectives from the homes of governing elites, secondary administrators, affluent artisans, and poorer members of the service industries. Household occupational specialists depended on regional trade for basic provisions that were essential to crafting industries, sustenance, and quality of life. Settlement patterns reveal intricate relationships of households with neighbors, garden plots, cultivable fields, thoroughfares, and resources. Urban planning endeavored to unite the cityscape and to integrate a pluralistic populace that derived from hometowns across the Yucatán peninsula.
New data from Mayapán, the pinnacle of Postclassic Maya society, contribute to a paradigm change regarding the evolution and organization of Maya society in general and make Kukulcan's Realm a must-read for students and scholars of the ancient Maya and Mesoamerica.
Owing to Yucatan’s relative isolation, many assume that the history and economy of the peninsula have evolved in a distinctive way, apart from the central government in Mexico City and insulated from world social and economic factors. The essays in this volume suggest that this has not been the case: the process of development in Yucatan has been linked firmly to national and global forces of change over the past two centuries. The essays are by U.S., Mexican, Canadian, and Belizean social scientists representing both well-established and younger scholars. The result is a perspective on Yucatan’s historical development that is at once international, interdisciplinary, and intergenerational.
In this volume, all of the contributors are genuinely comfortable with the theories and approaches of several disciplines—economics, history, and anthropology, and sociology. All have used largely untapped, primary, archival sources, and the result is a fascinating offering of new information.
Jacobi's groundbreaking osteology study uncovers the history of the Tipu Maya of Belize and their subsequent contact with the Spanish conquistadores and missionaries.
Two cultures collided at Tipu, Belize, in the 1600s: that of the native Maya and that of the Spanish missionaries, who arrived with an agenda of religious subjugation and, ultimately, political control. Combining historical documentation with the results of an archaeological exploration of a Tipu cemetery, Keith Jacobi provides an account of the meshing of these two cultures and the assimilation of Catholic practices by the Tipu.
In particular, Jacobi focuses on the dental remains recovered at this site. A tooth may be the last tangible evidence of a living creature, so teeth can reveal information about an individual's health, diet, cosmetic alteration, trauma, and genetic structure. From the genetic structure the researcher can learn information about an individual's relationship to others in a particular population and between populations.
Jacobi's research reveals how these European and Spanish Catholic practices were assimilated by the Tipu Maya and enables the first description of the prevalent attitudes toward death and burial customs. Through this study of Tipu Maya dentition changes through time, Jacobi sheds light on Spanish intermarriage, Maya familial relationships, and the Tipu genetic affinity with other prehistoric, historic, and modern Maya.
Aguateca is a Classic Mayan site located in the Petexbatun region of Guatemala. In this volume, Takeshi Inomata, Daniela Triadan, and their team examine the life of the Mayan royal family, nobles, and their retainers through the analysis of numerous complete and reconstructible artifacts left in this site’s elite residential area. Aguateca was unexpectedly attacked around AD 810, its central part was burned and its residents fled or were taken captive.
Because of the surprise nature of the attack, most artifacts were left in their original locations, providing unprecedented views of the daily life of the Classic Maya. Detailed analyses of these objects and their distribution has shown that Mayan elites stored some of their food in their residences and that they also conducted various administrative duties there. The presence of numerous precious ornaments indicates that many of the Maya elite were also skilled craft producers.
Life and Politics at the Royal Court of Aguateca is the third and final volume of the monograph series on Aguateca. It presents the analyses of items not covered in the first two volumes, including figurines, ceramic laminates and masks, spindle whorls, ground stone, and bone artifacts, as well as hieroglyphic texts and plant and animal remains. It discusses the broad implications of this remarkable data set and provides a summation of the project.
In The Life-Giving Stone, Michael Searcy provides a thought-provoking ethnoarchaeological account of metate and mano manufacture, marketing, and use among Guatemalan Maya for whom these stone implements are still essential equipment in everyday life and diet.
Although many archaeologists have regarded these artifacts simply as common everyday tools and therefore unremarkable, Searcy’s methodology reveals how, for the ancient Maya, the manufacture and use of grinding stones significantly impacted their physical and economic welfare. In tracing the life cycle of these tools from production to discard for the modern Maya, Searcy discovers rich customs and traditions that indicate how metates and manos have continued to sustain life—not just literally, in terms of food, but also in terms of culture. His research is based on two years of fieldwork among three Mayan groups, in which he documented behaviors associated with these tools during their procurement, production, acquisition, use, discard, and re-use.
Searcy’s investigation documents traditional practices that are rapidly being lost or dramatically modified. In few instances will it be possible in the future to observe metates and manos as central elements in household provisioning or follow their path from hand-manufacture to market distribution and to intergenerational transmission. In this careful inquiry into the cultural significance of a simple tool, Searcy’s ethnographic observations are guided both by an interest in how grinding stone traditions have persisted and how they are changing today, and by the goal of enhancing the archaeological interpretation of these stones, which were so fundamental to pre-Hispanic agriculturalists with corn-based cuisines.
Scholars have recently achieved new insights into the many ways in which the dead and the living interacted from the Late Preclassic to the Conquest in Mesoamerica. The eight essays in this useful volume were written by well-known scholars who offer cross-disciplinary and synergistic insights into the varied articulations between the dead and those who survived them. From physically opening the tomb of their ancestors and carrying out ancestral heirlooms to periodic feasts, sacrifices, and other lavish ceremonies, heirs revisited death on a regular basis. The activities attributable to the dead, moreover, range from passively defining territorial boundaries to more active exploits, such as “dancing” at weddings and “witnessing” royal accessions. The dead were—and continued to be—a vital part of everyday life in Mesoamerican cultures.
This book results from a symposium organized by the editors for an annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology. The contributors employ historical sources, comparative art history, anthropology, and sociology, as well as archaeology and anthropology, to uncover surprising commonalities across cultures, including the manner in which the dead were politicized, the perceptions of reciprocity between the dead and the living, and the ways that the dead were used by the living to create, define, and renew social as well as family ties. In exploring larger issues of a “good death” and the transition from death to ancestry, the contributors demonstrate that across Mesoamerica death was almost never accompanied by the extinction of a persona; it was more often the beginning of a social process than a conclusion.
Long after the Aztecs and the Incas had become a fading memory, a Maya civilization still thrived in the interior of Central America. Lost Shores, Forgotten Peoples is the first collection and translation of important seventeenth-century narratives about Europeans travelling across the great “Ocean Sea” and encountering a people who had maintained an independent existence in the lowlands of Guatemala and Belize. In these narratives—primary documents written by missionaries and conquistadors—vivid details of these little known Mayan cultures are revealed, answering how and why lowlanders were able to evade Spanish conquest while similar civilizations could not. Fascinating tales of the journey from Europe are included, involving unknown islands, lost pilots, life aboard a galleon fleet, political intrigue, cannibals, and breathtaking natural beauty. In short, these forgotten manuscripts—translations of the papers of the past—provide an unforgettable look at an understudied chapter in the age of exploration. Lost Shores, Forgotten Peoples will appeal to archaeologists, anthropologists, and historians interested in Central America, the Maya, and the Spanish Conquest.
This volume offers new calendrical models and methodologies for reading, dating, and interpreting the general significance of the Madrid Codex. The longest of the surviving Maya codices, this manuscript includes texts and images painted by scribes conversant in Maya hieroglyphic writing, a written means of communication practiced by Maya elites from the second to the fifteenth centuries A.D. Some scholars have recently argued that the Madrid Codex originated in the Petén region of Guatemala and postdates European contact. The contributors to this volume challenge that view by demonstrating convincingly that it originated in northern Yucatán and was painted in the Pre-Columbian era. In addition, several contributors reveal provocative connections among the Madrid and Borgia group of codices from Central Mexico.
Contributors include: Harvey M. Bricker, Victoria R. Bricker, John F. Chuchiak IV, Christine L. Hernández, Bryan R. Just, Merideth Paxton, and John Pohl. Additional support for this publication was generously provided by the Eugene M. Kayden Fund at the University of Colorado.
Karen KRAMER Harvard University Press, 2005 Library of Congress F1435.3.C47K73 2005 | Dewey Decimal 305.2308997427
Among the Maya of Xculoc, an isolated farming village in the lowland forests of the Yucatán peninsula, children contribute to household production in considerable ways. Thus this village, the subject of anthropologist Karen Kramer's study, affords a remarkable opportunity for understanding the economics of childhood in a pre-modern agricultural setting.
Drawing on a range of theoretical perspectives and extensive data gathered over many years, Kramer interprets the form, value, and consequences of children's labor in this maize-based culture. She looks directly at family size and birth spacing as they figure in the economics of families; and she considers the timing of children's economic contributions and their role in underwriting the cost of large families. Kramer's findings--in particular, that the children of Xculoc begin to produce more than they consume long before they marry and leave home--have a number of interesting implications for the study of family reproductive decisions and parent-offspring conflict, and for debates within anthropology over children's contributions in hunter/gatherer versus agricultural societies.
With its theoretical breadth, and its detail on crop yields, reproductive histories, diet, work scheduling, and agricultural production, this book sets a new standard for measuring and interpreting child productivity in a subsistence farming community.
There is no Classical Yucatecan Maya word for "myth." But around the close of the seventeenth century, an anonymous Maya scribe penned what he called u kahlay cab tu kinil, "the world history of the era," before Christianity came to the Peten. He collected numerous accounts of the cyclical destruction and reestablishment of the cosmos; the origins of gods, human beings, and the rituals and activities upon which their relationship depends; and finally the dawn of the sun and the sacred calendar Maya diviners still use today to make sense of humanity's place in the otherwise inscrutable march of time. These creation myths eventually became part of the documents known today as the Books of Chilam Balam.
Maya Creation Myths provides not only new and outstanding translations of these myths but also an interpretive journey through these often misunderstood texts, providing insight into Maya cosmology and how Maya intellectuals met the challenge of the European clergy's attempts to eradicate their worldviews. Unlike many scholars who focus primarily on traces of pre-Hispanic culture or Christian influence within the Books of Chilam Balam, Knowlton emphasizes the diversity of Maya mythic traditions and the uniquely Maya discursive strategies that emerged in the Colonial period.
This book will be of significant interest to Maya scholars, folklorists, and historians, as well as students and scholars of religion, cosmology, and anthropology.
Maya people have lived for thousands of years in the mountains and forests of Guatemala, but they lost control of their land, becoming serfs and refugees, when the Spanish invaded in the sixteenth century. Under the Spanish and the Guatemalan non-Indian elites, they suffered enforced poverty as a resident source of cheap labor for non-Maya projects, particularly agriculture production. Following the CIA-induced coup that toppled Guatemala's elected government in 1954, their misery was exacerbated by government accommodation to United States "interests," which promoted crops for export and reinforced the need for cheap and passive labor.
This widespread poverty was endemic throughout northwestern Guatemala, where 80 percent of Maya children were chronically malnourished, and forced wide-scale migration to the Pacific coast. The self-help aid that flowed into the area in the 1960s and 1970s raised hopes for justice and equity that were brutally suppressed by Guatemala's military government. This military reprisal led to a massive diaspora of Maya throughout Canada, the United States, Mexico, and Central America.
This collection describes that process and the results. The chapters show the dangers and problems of the migratory/refugee process and the range of creative cultural adaptations that the Maya have developed. It provides the first comparative view of the formation and transformation of this new and expanding transnational population, presented from the standpoint of the migrants themselves as well as from a societal and international perspective. Together, the chapters furnish ethnographically grounded perspectives on the dynamic implications of uprooting and resettlement, social and psychological adjustment, long-term prospects for continued links to migration history from Guatemala, and the development of a sense of co-ethnicity with other indigenous people of Maya descent. As the Maya struggle to find their place in a more global society, their stories of quiet courage epitomize those of many other ethnic groups, migrants, and refugees today.
In this valuable book, ethnographer and anthropologist Brigittine French mobilizes new critical-theoretical perspectives in linguistic anthropology, applying them to the politically charged context of contemporary Guatemala. Beginning with an examination of the “nationalist project” that has been ongoing since the end of the colonial period, French interrogates the “Guatemalan/indigenous binary.” In Guatemala, “Ladino” refers to the Spanish-speaking minority of the population, who are of mixed European, usually Spanish, and indigenous ancestry; “Indian” is understood to mean the majority of Guatemala’s population, who speak one of the twenty-one languages in the Maya linguistic groups of the country, although levels of bilingualism are very high among most Maya communities. As French shows, the Guatemalan state has actively promoted a racialized, essentialized notion of “Indians” as an undifferentiated, inherently inferior group that has stood stubbornly in the way of national progress, unity, and development—which are, implicitly, the goals of “true Guatemalans” (that is, Ladinos).
French shows, with useful examples, how constructions of language and collective identity are in fact strategies undertaken to serve the goals of institutions (including the government, the military, the educational system, and the church) and social actors (including linguists, scholars, and activists). But by incorporating in-depth fieldwork with groups that speak Kaqchikel and K’iche’ along with analyses of Spanish-language discourses, Maya Ethnolinguistic Identity also shows how some individuals in urban, bilingual Indian communities have disrupted the essentializing projects of multiculturalism. And by focusing on ideologies of language, the author is able to explicitly link linguistic forms and functions with larger issues of consciousness, gender politics, social positions, and the forging of hegemonic power relations.
The Maya are the single largest group of indigenous people living in North and Central America. Beginning in the early 1980s, hundreds of thousands of Maya fled the terror of Guatemalan civil strife to safety in Mexico and the U.S. This ethnography of Mayan immigrants who settled in Indiatown, a small agricultural community in south central Florida, presents the experiences of these traditional people, their adaptations to life in the U.S., and the ways they preserve their ancestral culture. For more than a decade, Allan F. Burns has been researching and doing advocacy work for these immigrant Maya, who speak Kanjobal, Quiche, Mamanâ, and several other of the more than thirty distinct languages in southern Mexico and Guatemala. In this fist book on the Guatemalan Maya in the U.S, he uses their many voices to communicate the experience of the Maya in Florida and describes the advantages and results of applied anthropology in refugee studies and cultural adaptation.
Burns describes the political and social background of the Guatemalan immigrants to the U.S. and includes personal accounts of individual strategies for leaving Guatemala and traveling to Florida. Examining how they interact with the community and recreate a Maya society in the U.S., he considers how low-wage labor influences the social structure of Maya immigrant society and discusses the effects of U.S. immigration policy on these refugees.
Maya Narrative Arts
Karen Bassie-Sweet University Press of Colorado, 2018 Library of Congress F1435.B37 2017 | Dewey Decimal 972.81
In Maya Narrative Arts, authors Karen Bassie-Sweet and Nicholas A. Hopkins present a comprehensive and innovative analysis of the principles of Classic Maya narrative arts and apply those principles to some of the major monuments of the site of Palenque. They demonstrate a recent methodological shift in the examination of art and inscriptions away from minute technical issues and toward the poetics and narratives of texts and the relationship between texts and images.
Bassie-Sweet and Hopkins show that both visual and verbal media present carefully planned narratives, and that the two are intimately related in the composition of Classic Maya monuments. Text and image interaction is discussed through examples of stelae, wall panels, lintels, benches, and miscellaneous artifacts including ceramic vessels and codices. Bassie-Sweet and Hopkins consider the principles of contrast and complementarity that underlie narrative structures and place this study in the context of earlier work, proposing a new paradigm for Maya epigraphy. They also address the narrative organization of texts and images as manifested in selected hieroglyphic inscriptions and the accompanying illustrations, stressing the interplay between the two.
Arguing for a more holistic approach to Classic Maya art and literature, Maya Narrative Arts reveals how close observation and reading can be equally if not more productive than theoretical discussions, which too often stray from the very data that they attempt to elucidate. The book will be significant for Mesoamerican art historians, epigraphers, linguists, and archaeologists.
Based on fieldwork and reflection over a period of almost fifty years, Maya Potters’ Indigenous Knowledge utilizes engagement theory to describe the indigenous knowledge of traditional Maya potters in Ticul, Yucatán, Mexico. In this heavily illustrated narrative account, Dean E. Arnold examines craftspeople’s knowledge and skills, their engagement with their natural and social environments, the raw materials they use for their craft, and their process for making pottery.
Following Lambros Malafouris, Tim Ingold, and Colin Renfrew, Arnold argues that potters’ indigenous knowledge is not just in their minds but extends to their engagement with the environment, raw materials, and the pottery-making process itself and is recursively affected by visual and tactile feedback. Pottery is not just an expression of a mental template but also involves the interaction of cognitive categories, embodied muscular patterns, and the engagement of those categories and skills with the production process. Indigenous knowledge is thus a product of the interaction of mind and material, of mental categories and action, and of cognition and sensory engagement—the interaction of both human and material agency.
Engagement theory has become an important theoretical approach and “indigenous knowledge” (as cultural heritage) is the focus of much current research in anthropology, archaeology, and cultural resource management. While Dean Arnold’s previous work has been significant in ceramic ethnoarchaeology, Maya Potters' Indigenous Knowledge goes further, providing new evidence and opening up different concepts and approaches to understanding practical processes. It will be of interest to a wide variety of researchers in Maya studies, material culture, material sciences, ceramic ecology, and ethnoarchaeology.
Maya Worldviews at Conquest examines Maya culture and social life just prior to contact and the effect the subsequent Spanish conquest, as well as contact with other Mesoamerican cultures, had on the Maya worldview.
Focusing on the Postclassic and Colonial periods, Maya Worldviews at Conquest provides a regional investigation of archaeological and epigraphic evidence of Maya ideology, landscape, historical consciousness, ritual practices, and religious symbolism before and during the Spanish conquest. Through careful investigation, the volume focuses on the impact of conversion, hybridization, resistance, and revitalization on the Mayans’ understanding of their world and their place in it.
The volume also addresses the issue of anthropologists unconsciously projecting their modern worldviews on the culture under investigation. Thus, the book critically defines and strengthens the use of worldviews in the scholarly literature regardless of the culture studied, making it of value not only to Maya scholars but also to those interested in the anthropologist’s projection of worldview on other cultures in general.
Like the original Harvest of Violence, published in 1988, this volume reveals how the contemporary Mayas contend with crime, political violence, internal community power struggles, and the broader impact of transnational economic and political policies in Guatemala. However, this work, informed by long-term ethnographic fieldwork in Mayan communities and commitment to conducting research in Mayan languages, places current anthropological analyses in relation to Mayan political activism and key Mayan intellectuals’ research and criticism. Illustrating specifically how Mayas in this post-war period conceive of their social and political place in Guatemala, Mayas working in factories, fields, and markets, and participating in local, community-level politics provide critiques of the government, the Maya movement, and the general state of insecurity and social and political violence that they continue to face on a daily basis. Their critical assessments and efforts to improve political, social, and economic conditions illustrate their resiliency and positive, nonviolent solutions to Guatemala’s ongoing problems that deserve serious consideration by Guatemalan and US policy makers, international non-government organizations, peace activists, and even academics studying politics, social agency, and the survival of indigenous people.
Abigail E. Adams / José Oscar Barrera Nuñez / Peter Benson / Barbara Bocek / Jennifer L. Burrell / Robert M. Carmack / Monica DeHart / Edward F. Fischer / Liliana Goldín / Walter E. Little / Judith M. Maxwell / J. Jailey Philpot-Munson / Brenda Rosenbaum / Timothy J. Smith / David Stoll
Forests are alive, filled with rich, biologically complex life forms and the interrelationships of multiple species and materials. Vulnerable to a host of changing conditions in this global era, forests are in peril as never before. New markets in carbon and environmental services attract speculators. In the name of conservation, such speculators attempt to undermine local land control in these desirable areas.
Moral Ecology of a Forest provides an ethnographic account of conservation politics, particularly the conflict between Western conservation and Mayan ontological ecology. The difficult interactions of the Maya of central Quintana Roo, Mexico, for example, or the Mayan communities of the Sain Ka’an Biosphere, demonstrate the clashing interests with Western biodiversity conservation initiatives. The conflicts within the forest of Quintana Roo represent the outcome of nature in this global era, where the forces of land grabbing, conservation promotion and organizations, and capitalism vie for control of forests and land.
Forests pose living questions. In addition to the ever-thrilling biology of interdependent species, forests raise questions in the sphere of political economy, and thus raise cultural and moral questions. The economic aspects focus on the power dynamics and ideological perspectives over who controls, uses, exploits, or preserves those life forms and landscapes. The cultural and moral issues focus on the symbolic meanings, forms of knowledge, and obligations that people of different backgrounds, ethnicities, and classes have constructed in relation to their lands. The Maya Forest of Quintana Roo is a historically disputed place in which these three questions come together.
For two millennia, the site now known as Blue Creek in northwestern Belize was a Maya community that became an economic and political center that included some 15,000-20,000 people at its height. Fairly well protected from human destruction, the site offers the full range of city components including monumental ceremonial structures, elite and non-elite residences, ditched agricultural fields, and residential clusters just outside the core. Since 1992, a multi-disciplinary, multi-national research team has intensively investigated Blue Creek in an integrated study of the dynamic structure and functional inter-relationships among the parts of a single Maya city. Documented in coverage by National Geographic, Archaeology magazine, and a documentary film aired on the Discovery Channel, Blue Creek is recognized as a unique site offering the full range of undisturbed architectural construction to reveal the mosaic that was the ancient city. Moving beyond the debate of what constitutes a city, Guderjan’s long-term research reveals what daily Maya life was like.
Little is known about how Late Postclassic populations in southeast Mesoamerica organized their political relations. Networks of Power fills gaps in the knowledge of this little-studied area, reconstructing the course of political history in the Naco Valley from the fourteenth through early sixteenth centuries.
Describing the material and behavioral patterns pertaining to the Late Postclassic period using components of three settlements in the Naco Valley of northwestern Honduras, the book focuses on how contests for power shaped political structures. Power-seeking individuals, including but not restricted to ruling elites, depended on networks of allies to support their political objectives. Ongoing and partially successful competitions waged within networks led to the incorporation of exotic ideas and imported items into the daily practices of all Naco Valley occupants. The result was a fragile hierarchical structure forever vulnerable to the initiatives of agents operating on local and distant stages.
Networks of Power describes who was involved in these competitions and in which networks they participated; what resources were mustered within these webs; which projects were fueled by these assets; and how, and to what extent, they contributed to the achievement of political aims.
On Being Maya and Getting By is an ethnographic study of the two Ek’Balams—a notable archaeological site and adjacent village—of the Yucatán Peninsula. When the archaeological site became a tourist destination, the village became the location of a community-based tourism development project funded by the Mexican government. Overt displays of heritage and a connection to Maya antiquity became important and profitable for the modern Maya villagers. Residents of Ek’Balam are now living in a complex ecosystem of natural and cultural resources where the notion and act of “being Maya” is deeply intertwined with economic development.
The book explores how Ek’Balam villagers negotiate and maneuver through a web of social programs, tourists, volunteers, and expectations while living their daily lives. Focusing on the active processes in which residents choose to participate, author Sarah R. Taylor provides insights into how the ideological conflicts surrounding economic development play out in the negotiations between internal community politics and external social actors. The conflicts implicit to conceptions of “community” as a target for development are made explicit through the systematic questioning of what exactly it means to be a member of a local, indigenous, or sustainable community in the process of being developed.
On Being Maya and Getting By is a rich description of how one community is actively negotiating with tourism and development and also a call for a more complex analysis of how rural villages are connected to greater urban, national, and global forces.
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.
"The Only True People" is a timely and rigorous examination of ethnicity among the ancient and modern Maya, focusing on ethnogenesis and exploring the complexities of Maya identity—how it developed, where and when it emerged, and why it continues to change over time. In the volume, a multidisciplinary group of well-known scholars including archaeologists, linguists, ethnographers, ethnohistorians, and epigraphers investigate ethnicity and other forms of group identity at a number of Maya sites and places, from the northern reaches of the Yucatan to the Southern Periphery, and across different time periods, from the Classic period to the modern day.
Each contribution challenges the notion of ethnically homogenous "Maya peoples" for their region and chronology and explores how their work contributes to the definition of "ethnicity" for ancient Maya society. Contributors confront some of the most difficult theoretical debates concerning identity in the literature today: how different ethnic groups define themselves in relation to others; under what circumstances ethnicity is marked by overt expressions of group membership and when it is hidden from view; and the processes that transform ethnic identities and their expressions.
By addressing the social constructs and conditions behind Maya ethnicity, both past and present, "The Only True People" contributes to the understanding of ethnicity as a complex set of relationships among people who lived in real and imagined communities, as well as among people separated by social boundaries. The volume will be a key resource for Mayanists and will be of interest to students and scholars of ethnography, anthropology, and cultural studies as well.
Contributors: McCale Ashenbrener, Ellen E. Bell, Marcello A. Canuto, Juan Castillo Cocom, David A. Freidel, Wolfgang Gabbert, Stanley P. Guente, Jonathan Hill, Charles Andrew Hofling, Martha J. Macri, Damien B. Marken, Matthew Restall, Timoteo Rodriguez, Mathew C. Samson, Edward Schortman, Rebecca Storey
The Mexican Revolution was a tumultuous struggle for social and political reform that ousted an autocrat and paved the way for a new national constitution. The conflict, however, came late to Yucatán, where a network of elite families with largely European roots held the reins of government. This privileged group reaped spectacular wealth from haciendas, cash-crop plantations tended by debt-ridden servants of Maya descent. When a revolutionary army from central Mexico finally gained a foothold in Yucatán in 1915, the local custom of agrarian servitude met its demise.
Drawing on a dozen years of archaeological and historical investigation, Allan Meyers breaks new ground in the study of Yucatán haciendas. He explores a plantation village called San Juan Bautista Tabi, which once stood at the heart of a vast sugar estate. Occupied for only a few generations, the village was abandoned during the revolutionary upheaval. Its ruins now lie within a state-owned ecological reserve.
Through oral histories, archival records, and physical remains, Meyers examines various facets of the plantation landscape. He presents original data and fresh interpretations on settlement organization, social stratification, and spatial relationships. His systematic approach to "things underfoot," small everyday objects that are now buried in the tropical forest, offers views of the hacienda experience that are often missing in official written sources. In this way, he raises the voices of rural, mostly illiterate Maya speakers who toiled as laborers. What emerges is a portrait of hacienda social life that transcends depictions gleaned from historical methods alone.
Students, researchers, and travelers to Mexico will all find something of interest in Meyers's lively presentation. Readers will see the old haciendas—once forsaken but now experiencing a rebirth as tourist destinations—in a new light. These heritage sites not only testify to social conditions that prevailed before the Mexican Revolution, but also remind us that the human geography of modern Yucatán is as much a product of plantation times as it is of more ancient periods.
In the first comprehensive treatment of Classic Maya patron deity veneration, Joanne P. Baron demonstrates the central importance of patron deity cults in political relationships between both rulers and their subjects and among different Maya kingdoms. Weaving together evidence from inscriptions, images, and artifacts, Patron Gods and Patron Lords provides new insights into how the Classic Maya polity was organized and maintained.
Using semiotic theory, Baron draws on three bodies of evidence: ethnographies and manuscripts from Postclassic, Colonial, and modern Maya communities that connect patron saints to pre-Columbian patron gods; hieroglyphic texts from the Classic period that discuss patron deity veneration; and excavations from four patron deity temples at the site of La Corona, Guatemala. She shows how the Classic Maya used patron deity effigies, temples, and acts of devotion to negotiate group membership, social entitlements, and obligations between individuals and communities. She also explores the wider role of these processes in politics, arguing that rituals and discourses related to patron deities ultimately formulated Maya rulership as a locally oriented institution, which limited the ability of powerful kingdoms to create wider religious communities.
Applying a new theoretical approach for the archaeological study of ideology and power dynamics, Patron Gods and Patron Lords reveals an overlooked aspect of the belief system of Maya communities.
Political Ecology in a Yucatec Maya Community
E. N. Anderson with Aurora Dzib Xihum de Cen, Felix Medina Tzuc, and Pastor Valdez Chale University of Arizona Press, 2005 Library of Congress F1435.3.A37P65 2005 | Dewey Decimal 305.89742
In Chunhuhub, the Conquest is not a done deal.
Unlike many small tropical towns, Chunhuhub in rural Quintana Roo, Mexico, has not been a helpless victim of international forces. Its people are descendants of heroic Mayans who stood off the Spanish invaders. People in Chunhuhub continue to live largely through subsistence farming of maize and vegetables, supplemented by commercial orchard, livestock, and field crop cultivation. They are, however, also self-consciously “modernizing” by seeking better educational and economic opportunities.
Political Ecology in a Yucatec Maya Community tells the story of Chunhuhub at the beginning of the twenty-first century, focusing on the resource management of plants and animals. E. N. Anderson and his Maya co-authors provide a detailed overview of Maya knowledge of and relationships with the environment, describing how these relationships have been maintained over the centuries and are being transformed by modernization. They show that the Quintana Roo Mayas have been working to find ways to continue ancient and sustainable methods of making a living while also introducing modern techniques that can improve that living. For instance, traditional subsistence agriculture is broadly sustainable at current population densities, but hunting is not, and modern mechanized agriculture has an uncertain future.
Bringing the voice of contemporary Mayas to every page, the authors offer an encyclopedic overview of the region: history, environment, agriculture, medicine, social relations, and economy. Whether discussing the fine points of beekeeping or addressing the problem of deforestation, they provide a remarkably detailed account that immerses readers in the landscape.
Maya of the Yucatán Peninsula have had more than their share of successes—and some failures as well—and as a study in political and cultural ecology, Political Ecology in a Yucatec Maya Community has much to tell us about tropical development and about the human condition. Their experience tells us that if we wish to have not only farms but also mahogany, wildlife, and ecotourism, then further efforts are needed.
As Anderson observes, traditional Maya management, with its immense knowledge base, remains the best—indeed, the only—effective system for making a living from the Yucatán’s harsh landscape. Political Ecology in a Yucatec Maya Community is a compelling testament to the daily life practices of modern peasant farmers that can provide us with clues about more efficient management techniques for the conservation of biodiversity worldwide.
“Kosakowsky’s book, produced in the clear, easy-to-read and well-designed format . . . is a substantive contribution to Maya ceramic studies. She details the significant changes in the ceramic sequence and in so doing provides the kind of information that enables other ceramicists, and other Mayanists, to compare the Cuello phenomenon with developments elsewhere. Studies such as these are the building blocks of any larger-scale structural understanding of Maya cultural change.”—Journal of Latin American Studies
Psychiatric Encounters presents an intimate portrait of a public inpatient psychiatric facility in the Southeastern state of Yucatan, Mexico. The book explores the experiences of patients and psychiatrists as they navigate the challenges of public psychiatric care in Mexico. While international reports condemning conditions in Mexican psychiatric institutions abound, Psychiatric Encounters considers the large- and small-scale obstacles to quality care encountered by doctors and patients alike as they struggle to live and act like human beings under inhumane conditions. Beatriz Mireya Reyes-Foster closely examines the impact of the Mexican state’s neoliberal health reforms on how patients access care and doctors perform their duties. Engaging with madness, modernity, and identity, Psychiatric Encounters considers the enduring role of colonialism in the context of Mexico's troubled contemporary mental health care institutions.
The collapse of classic Maya civilization at the end of the eighth century A.D. is still an enigma, but the story behind it is likely more than a clash of warring city-states. New research indicates that ecological degradation and nutritional deficiency may be as important to our understanding of Maya cultural processes as deciphering the rise and fall of kings.
Reconstructing Ancient Maya Diet integrates recent data from bone-chemistry research, paleopathology, paleobotany, zooarchaeology, and ethnobotany to show what the ancient Maya actually ate at various periods (as opposed to archaeological suppositions) and how it affected the quality of their lives. It is now evident that to feed a burgeoning population the Maya relied on increasingly intensive forms of agriculture.
Exploring the relationship between these practices, ecological degradation, and social collapse, this book uses dietary data to investigate the rise of agricultural systems and class structure; the characterization of social relationships along lines of gender and age (i.e., who ate what); and the later effects of the Spanish conquest on diet and extant modes of agriculture.
Maya subsistence has been investigated intensively for the past two decades, but this is the first volume that unites work across the spectrum of Maya bioarchaeology.
Referential Practice is an anthropological study of language use in a contemporary Maya community. It examines the routine conversational practices in which Maya speakers make reference to themselves and to each other, to their immediate contexts, and to their world. Drawing on extensive fieldwork in Oxkutzcab, Yucatán, William F. Hanks develops a sociocultural approach to reference in natural languages. The core of this approach lies in treating speech as a social engagement and reference as a practice through which actors orient themselves in the world. The conceptual framework derives from cultural anthropology, linguistic pragmatics, interpretive sociology, and cognitive semantics.
As his central case, Hanks undertakes a comprehensive analysis of deixis—linguistic forms that fix reference in context, such as English I, you, this, that, here, and there. He shows that Maya deixis is a basic cultural construct linking language with body space, domestic space, agricultural and ritual practices, and other fields of social activity. Using this as a guide to ethnographic description, he discovers striking regularities in person reference and modes of participation, the role of perception in reference, and varieties of spatial orientation, including locative deixis. Traditionally considered a marginal area in linguistics and virtually untouched in the ethnographic literature, the study of referential deixis becomes in Hanks's treatment an innovative and revealing methodology.
Referential Practice is the first full-length study of actual deictic use in a non-Western language, the first in-depth study of speech practice in Yucatec Maya culture, and the first detailed account of the relation between routine conversation, embodiment, and ritual discourse.
Return to Ixil is an examination of over 100 colonial-era Maya wills from the Yucatec town of Ixil, presented together and studied fully for the first time. These testaments make up the most significant corpus of Maya-language documents from the colonial period. Offering an unprecedented picture of material and spiritual life in Ixil from 1738 to 1779, they are rare and rich sources for the study of Maya culture and history.
Supplemented with additional archival research, the wills provide new and detailed descriptions of various aspects of life in eighteenth-century Ixil. In each chapter, authors Mark Christensen and Matthew Restall examine a different dimension of Ixil’s colonial history, including the role of notaries, Maya participation in a coastal militia, economy and modes of production, religious life and records, and the structures and patterns of familial relationships. These details offer insight into the complex network of societies in colonial Yucatan, colonial Mesoamerica, and colonial Latin America.
Including an appendix presenting the original Maya texts as well as translations by Christensen and Restall, Return to Ixil not only analyzes the largest body of substantive wills in any Mayan language known today but also provides a rare closeup view of the inner workings of a colonial Maya town and the communal and familial affairs that made up a large part of the Maya colonial experience. It will be of great interest to Mayanists as well as to students and scholars of history, anthropology, ethnohistory, linguistics, and social history.
The publication of this book is supported in part byBrigham Young University and Penn State University.
As a free trade zone and Latin America's most popular destination, Cancún, Mexico, is more than just a tourist town. It is not only actively involved in the production of transnational capital but also forms an integral part of the state's modernization plan for rural, indigenous communities. Indeed, Maya migrants make up over a third of the city's population.
A Return to Servitude is an ethnography of Maya migration within Mexico that analyzes the foundational role indigenous peoples play in the development of the modern nation-state. Focusing on tourism in the Yucatán Peninsula, M. Bianet Castellanos examines how Cancún came to be equated with modernity, how this city has shaped the political economy of the peninsula, and how indigenous communities engage with this vision of contemporary life. More broadly, she demonstrates how indigenous communities experience, resist, and accommodate themselves to transnational capitalism.
Tourism and the social stratification that results from migration have created conflict among the Maya. At the same time, this work asserts, it is through engagement with modernity and its resources that they are able to maintain their sense of indigeneity and community.
Seeking Conflict in Mesoamerica focuses on the conflicts of the ancient Maya, providing a holistic history of Maya hostilities and comparing them with those of neighboring Mesoamerican villages and towns. Contributors to the volume explore the varied stories of past Maya conflicts through artifacts, architecture, texts, and images left to posterity.
Many studies have focused on the degree to which the prevalence, nature, and conduct of conflict has varied across time and space. This volume focuses not only on such operational considerations but on cognitive and experiential issues, analyzing how the Maya understood and explained conflict, what they recognized as conflict, how conflict was experienced by various groups, and the circumstances surrounding conflict. By offering an emic (internal and subjective) understanding alongside the more commonly researched etic (external and objective) perspective, contributors clarify insufficiencies and address lapses in data and analysis. They explore how the Maya defined themselves within the realm of warfare and examine the root causes and effects of intergroup conflict.
Using case studies from a wide range of time periods, Seeking Conflict in Mesoamerica provides a basis for understanding hostilities and broadens the archaeological record for the “seeking” of conflict in a way that has been largely untouched by previous scholars. With broad theoretical reach beyond Mesoamerican archaeology, the book will have wide interdisciplinary appeal and will be important to ethnohistorians, art historians, ethnographers, epigraphers, and those interested in human conflict more broadly.
Matthew Abtosway, Karen Bassie-Sweet, George J. Bey III, M. Kathryn Brown, Allen J. Christenson, Tomás Gallareta Negrón, Elizabeth Graham, Helen R. Haines, Christopher L. Hernandez, Harri Kettunen, Rex Koontz, Geoffrey McCafferty, Jesper Nielsen, Joel W. Palka, Kerry L. Sagebiel, Travis W. Stanton, Alexandre Tokovinine
How and why do ceramics and their production change through time? Social Change and the Evolution of Ceramic Production and Distribution in a Maya Community is a unique ethno-archaeological study that attempts to answer these questions by tracing social change among potters and changes in the production and distribution of their pottery in a the Mexican community of Ticul between 1965 and 1997.
Dean E. Arnold made ten visits to Ticul, Yucatan, Mexico, witnessing the changes in transportation infrastructure, the use of piped water, and the development of tourist resorts. Even in this context of social change and changes in the demand for pottery, most of the potters in 1997 came from the families that had made pottery in 1965. This book traces changes and continuities in that population of potters, in the demand and distribution of pottery, and in the procurement of clay and temper, paste composition, forming, and firing.
In this volume, Arnold bridges the gap between archaeology and ethnography, using his analysis of contemporary ceramic production and distribution to generate new theoretical explanations for archaeologists working with pottery from antiquity. When the descriptions and explanations of Arnold’s findings in Ticul are placed in the context of the literature on craft specialization, a number of insights can be applied to the archaeological record that confirm, contradict, and nuance generalizations concerning the evolution of ceramic specialization. This book will be of special interest to anthropologists, archaeologists, and ethnographers.
Sorcery in Mesoamerica
Jeremy D. Coltman and John M. D. Pohl University Press of Colorado, 2020 Library of Congress BF1584.M6S67 2020 | Dewey Decimal 133.430972
Approaching sorcery as highly rational and rooted in significant social and cultural values, Sorcery in Mesoamerica examines and reconstructs the original indigenous logic behind it, analyzing manifestations from the Classic Maya to the ethnographic present. While the topic of sorcery and witchcraft in anthropology is well developed in other areas of the world, it has received little academic attention in Mexico and Central America until now.
In each chapter, preeminent scholars of ritual and belief ask very different questions about what exactly sorcery is in Mesoamerica. Contributors consider linguistic and visual aspects of sorcery and witchcraft, such as the terminology in Aztec semantics and dictionaries of the Kaqchiquel and K’iche’ Maya. Others explore the practice of sorcery and witchcraft, including the incorporation by indigenous sorcerers in the Mexican highlands of European perspectives and practices into their belief system. Contributors also examine specific deities, entities, and phenomena, such as the pantheistic Nahua spirit entities called forth to assist healers and rain makers, the categorization of Classic Maya Wahy (“co-essence”) beings, the cult of the Aztec goddess Cihuacoatl, and the recurring relationship between female genitalia and the magical conjuring of a centipede throughout Mesoamerica.
Placing the Mesoamerican people in a human context—as engaged in a rational and logical system of behavior—Sorcery inMesoamerica is the first comprehensive study of the subject and an invaluable resource for students and scholars of Mesoamerican culture and religion.
Lilián González Chévez, John F. Chuchiak IV, Jeremy D. Coltman, Roberto Martínez González, Oswaldo Chinchilla Mazariegos, Cecelia F. Klein, Timothy J. Knab, John Monaghan, Jesper Nielsen, John M. D. Pohl, Alan R. Sandstrom, Pamela Effrein Sandstrom, David Stuart
From 400 BC to AD 250, the southern Maya region was one of the most remarkable civilizations of the ancient Americas. Filled with great cities linked by flourishing long-distance trade, shared elite ideologies, and a vibrant material culture, this region was pivotal not only for the Maya but for Mesoamerica as a whole. Although it has been of great interest to scholars, gaps in the knowledge have led to debate on the most vital questions about the southern region.
Recent research has provided a wealth of broadly based new data that have expanded the understanding of this region and its influence on greater Mesoamerica. In The Southern Maya in the Late Preclassic, prominent contributors debate whether the southern region was indeed "Maya" or instead a region of intense multiethnic interaction, with speakers of many languages and many sources of identity. The chapters address a host of advanced developments to which this area can lay claim--urbanism and city-states, the earliest Maya writing, and the origin of the Maya calendar--as well as additional issues including the construction of social and cultural identities, economic networks of early complex societies, relationships between the Maya and the Olmec, and a comprehensive discussion of the ancient city of Kaminaljuyu and its relationship to other cities in the region.
Cave archaeology in the New World, now a focus of intense research, was still a peripheral area of inquiry just fifteen years ago. Stone Houses and Earth Lords is the first volume dedicated exclusively to the use of caves in the Maya Lowlands, covering primarily Classic Period archaeology from A.D. 100 through the Spaniards' arrival. Although the caves that riddled the lowlands show no signs of habitation, most contain evidence of human use - evidence that suggests that they functioned as ritual spaces.
Demonstrating the importance of these subterranean spaces to Maya archaeology, contributors provide interpretations of archaeological remains that yield insights into Maya ritual and cosmology. Compiling the best current scholarship in this fast-growing area of research, Stone Houses and Earth Lords is a vital reference for Mayanists, Mesoamerican specialists, and others interested in the human use of caves in the New World. Contributors include: Juan Luis Bonor, James E. Brady, Robert Burnett, Allan B. Cobb, Pierre Robert Colas, Cesar Espinosa, Sergio Garza, David M. Glassman, Christina T. Halperin, Amalia Kenward, Andrew Kindon, Patricia McAnany, Christopher Morehart, Holley Moyes, Vanessa A. Owen, Shankari Patel, Polly Peterson, Keith M. Prufer, Timothy. W. Pugh, Frank Saul, Julie Saul, Ann M. Scott, Andrea Stone, and Vera Tiesler.
While the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico may conjure up images of vacation getaways and cocktails by the sea, these easy stereotypes hide a story filled with sweat and toil. The story of sugarcane and rum production in the Caribbean has been told many times. But few know the bittersweet story of sugar and rum in the jungles of the Yucatán Peninsula during the nineteenth century. This is much more than a history of coveted commodities. The unique story that unfolds in John R. Gust and Jennifer P. Mathews’s new history Sugarcane and Rum is told through the lens of Maya laborers who worked under brutal conditions on small haciendas to harvest sugarcane and produce rum.
Gust and Mathews weave together ethnographic interviews and historical archives with archaeological evidence to bring the daily lives of Maya workers into focus. They lived in a cycle of debt, forced to buy all of their supplies from the company store and take loans from the hacienda owners. And yet they had a certain autonomy because the owners were so dependent on their labor at harvest time. We also see how the rise of cantinas and distilled alcohol in the nineteenth century affected traditional Maya culture and that the economies of Cancún and the Mérida area are predicated on the rum-influenced local social systems of the past. Sugarcane and Rum brings this bittersweet story to the present and explains how rum continues to impact the Yucatán and the people who have lived there for millennia.
The Terminal Classic in the Maya Lowlands revisits one of the great problems in Mayan archaeology - the apparent collapse of Classic Maya civilization from roughly A.D. 830 to 950. During this period the Maya abandoned their power centers in the southern lowlands and rather abruptly ceased the distinctive cultural practices that marked their apogee in the Classic period. Archaeological fieldwork during the past three decades, however, has uncovered enormous regional variability in the ways the Maya experienced the shift from Classic to Postclassic society, revealing a period of cultural change more complex than acknowledged by traditional models.
Featuring an impressive roster of scholars, The Terminal Classic presents the most recent data and interpretations pertaining to this perplexing period of cultural transformation in the Maya lowlands. Although the research reveals clear interregional patterns, the contributors resist a single overarching explanation. Rather, this volume's diverse and nuanced interpretations provide a new, more properly grounded beginning for continued debate on the nature of lowland Terminal Classic Maya civilization.
TESTIMONY: DEATH OF A GUATEMALAN VILLAGE is an eyewitness account by a Guatemalan primary school teacher detailing one instance of violent conflict between the indigenous Maya people and the army. An accidental clash between the village's "civil patrol" and a Guatemalan army troop leads to the execution or imprisonment of many villagers. Written in clear, direct prose, this account reads like an adventure story while conveying an historical reality. This vital and essential record captures how Guatemala's 36-year civil war, which reached its most violent peak in the 1980s, ripped the traditional fabric of Guatemalan society.
The highlands of Chiapas are smoldering with death.
In the winter of 1997, paramilitary agents ambushed and killed many Mayan villagers in Acteal, Chiapas. Gifted writer Juan Felipe Herrera has composed a stirring poem sequence—published in a bilingual format—written in response and homage to those who died, as well as to all those who call for peace and justice in the Mexican highlands and throughout the Americas.
The sections are written in the voices of four women from a family in Chiapas: Xunka, a lost twelve-year-old girl; Pascuala, the mother; grandmother Maruch; and Makal, an older daughter who is pregnant. Each voice weaves into the others and speaks for still other members of the larger Mayan and Native American family.
Thunderweavers is a story of violent displacements in the lives of the most impoverished residents of southern Mexico.Through these words, readers will learn the meaning of transcendence and continuity in the midst of chaos, suffering, and war.
Jade, stone tools, honey and wax, ceramics, rum, land. What gave these commodities value in the Maya world, and how were those values determined? What factors influenced the rise and fall of a commodity’s value? The Value of Things examines the social and ritual value of commodities in Mesoamerica, providing a new and dynamic temporal view of the roles of trade of commodities and elite goods from the prehistoric Maya to the present.
Editors Jennifer P. Mathews and Thomas H. Guderjan begin the volume with a review of the theoretical literature related to the “value of things.” Throughout the volume, well-known scholars offer chapters that examine the value of specific commodities in a broad time frame—from prehistoric, colonial, and historic times to the present. Using cases from the Maya world on both the local level and the macro-regional, contributors look at jade, agricultural products (ancient and contemporary), stone tools, salt, cacao (chocolate), honey and wax, henequen, sugarcane and rum, land, ceramic (ancient and contemporary), and contemporary tourist handicrafts.
Each chapter author looks into what made their specific commodity valuable to ancient, historic, and contemporary peoples in the Maya region. Often a commodity’s worth goes far beyond its financial value; indeed, in some cases, it may not even be viewed as something that can be sold. Other themes include the rise and fall in commodity values based on perceived need, rarity or overproduction, and change in available raw materials; the domestic labor side of commodities, including daily life of the laborers; and relationships between elites and nonelites in production.
Examining, explaining, and theorizing how people ascribe value to what they trade, this scholarly volume provides a rich look at local and regional Maya case studies through centuries of time.
Rani T. Alexander
Dean E. Arnold
Tiffany C. Cain
Scott L. Fedick
Thomas H. Guderjan
Joshua J. Kwoka
Richard M. Leventhal
Jennifer P. Mathews
Allan D. Meyers
Mary Katherine Scott
E. Cory Sills
Today, foreigners travel to the Yucatan for ruins, temples, and pyramids, white sand beaches and clear blue water. One hundred years ago, they went for cheap labor, an abundance of land, and the opportunity to make a fortune exporting cattle, henequen fiber, sugarcane, or rum. Sometimes they found death.
In 1875 an American plantation manager named Robert Stephens and a number of his workers were murdered by a band of Maya rebels. To this day, no one knows why. Was it the result of feuding between aristocratic families for greater power and wealth? Was it the foreseeable consequence of years of oppression and abuse of Maya plantation workers? Was a rebel leader seeking money and fame—or perhaps retribution for the loss of the woman he loved?
For whites, the events that took place at Xuxub, Stephens’s plantation, are virtually unknown, even though they engendered a diplomatic and legal dispute that vexed Mexican-U.S. relations for over six decades. The construction of "official" histories allowed the very name of Xuxub to die, much as the plantation itself was subsumed by the jungle. For the Maya, however, what happened at Xuxub is more than a story they pass down through generations—it is a defining moment in how they see themselves.
Sullivan masterfully weaves the intricately tangled threads of this story into a fascinating account of human accomplishments and failings, in which good and evil are never quite what they seem at first, and truth proves to be elusive. Xuxub Must Die seeks not only to fathom a mystery, but also to explore the nature of guilt, blame, and understanding.