Select Page

Pluralizing Ethnography

Comparison and Representation in Maya Cultures, Histories, and Identities

Edited by John M. Watanabe and Edward F. Fischer

This volume brings together eight Maya specialists and a prominent anthropological theorist to assess the contrasting historical circumstances and emerging cultural futures of Mayas in Mexico and Guatemala. Rather than presume a romanticized, timeless Maya culture—or the globalized predicaments of transnationalized Maya imaginings—this seminar took its cue from contemporary Maya cultural activists who derive their enduring sense of Maya-ness from a historical consciousness of five hundred years of cultural resilience. The contributors evaluate the history of Maya peoples and Maya anthropology by examining language, religion, political attitudes and activism, ethnographic traditions, and the relationship between economic change, migration, and cultural identity.

In comparing Maya peoples across Mexico and Guatemala, the contributors’ emphasis on culture recovers intermediate linkages between the personal and the political, the local and the global. Their work enables a controlled cross-cultural comparison across national boundaries and histories that in turn illuminates the connection between locally constructed meanings and global transformations.

2004. 368 pp., 8 black-and-white illustrations, 1 table, notes, references, index, 6 x 9

Contributors: Victoria Bricker, Edward F. Fischer, Richard G. Fox, Gary H. Gossen, Christine A. Kray, Victor D. Montejo, June Nash, Jan Rus, John M. Watanabe

Download an excerpt.

“The authors are all leading scholars of the Maya region who have carried out long term fieldwork projects among different groups in the area. . . . Each essay presents original arguments and new data, and several . . . are really fabulous.”
—Dr. John Monaghan, University of Illinois at Chicago

“Altogether this book stimulates many ideas from one approach to language origins. It is well written, thoroughly referenced, and makes a substantial contribution to the ongoing discussion of this issue.”
—Dr. Grant Jones, Davidson College


  1. Introduction: Emergent Anthropologies and Pluricultural Ethnography in Two Postcolonial Nations
    John M. Watanabe and Edward F. Fischer
  2. Culture History in National Contexts: Nineteenth-Century Maya Under Mexican and Guatemalan Rule
    John M. Watanabe
  3. Linguistic Continuities and Discontinuities in the Maya Area
    Victoria R. Bricker
  4. The Summer Institute of Linguistics and the Politics of Bible Translation in Mexico: Convergence, Appropriation, and Consequence
    Christine A. Kray
  5. “Everything Has Begun to Change”: Appraisals of the Mexican State in Chiapas Maya Discourse, 1980-2000
    Gary H. Gossen
  6. Beyond Resistance and Protest: Maya Quest for Autonomy in Mexico
    June Nash
  7. Rereading Tzotzil Ethnography: Recent Scholarship from Chiapas, Mexico
    Jan Rus
  8. Angering the Ancestors: Transnationalism and Economic Transformation of Maya Communities in Western Guatemala
    Victor Montejo
  9. The Janus Face of Globalization: Economic Production and Cultural Reproduction in Highland Guatemala
    Edward F. Fischer
  10. Continuities, Imputed and Inferred
    Richard G. Fox

There are no working papers for this book at the present time.