Maya Identities and the Violence of Place
This title was first published in 2001. Exploring issues of diversity and cross-cultural interaction and understanding, Maya Identities and the Violence of Place offers new perspectives on borderlands and identities, providing an important case study of people from Latin America on the move. Examining issues of indigeneity, diaspora, flights from physical violence and economic repression, and efforts to remain indigenous among a proud but beleaguered people, this book is replete with stories of movement and change that operate as means to maintain identity. Thompson examines how the Jacalteco Maya of Latin America form their identities as indigenous people, despite a long tradition of movement across the rigid constraints of borders of geography, history, race and ethnicity. Religion, language, fiestas, and stories of leaving and return, all serve to bond people to their particularity. Examining the indigenous identity formations and religious convictions among the Maya in places where brutality has dominated the landscape and where violence is commonplace, this book avoids dwelling on centers of culture and explains instead how Maya concepts of identity arise from travel, contact with others, and change. Thompson reveals the ironies of classifying as natives', aboriginal or indigenous the many individuals and families who have become refugees, and explores how Maya have transcended the erroneous image of Guatemalan Indians ensconced within borders of particular land, and how they have overstepped popular portrayals of native peoples clinging tenaciously to their sacred soil as their sole means of surviving culturally and spiritually. Showing bleeding borders to be more than a recent occurrence, Thompson argues that there has never been a time when Maya did not have to travel in order to remain who they are. Exploring ideas of human to land connections and how religion among the indigenous makes change and movement possible, this book offers invaluable insight
Table of Contents
Contents: Life, death and lines of containment; Natives of bleeding land; The return to Maya Ruins; Colonial enclosures; Arrival 1927: the formation of Ethno-boundaries; Bricks and borders; Extended knowledges: making use of all possible routes; The Jacaltenango Road; Legendary travellers; Of fields and dreams; Moving histories; Guadeloupe Victoria: Jacalteco town in Mexico; Beyond the cutting edge: religion, place and transition; Conclusion; References.
'...Thompson presents a substantial, sensitive, and well-written work which discloses the strategies and worldviews of the Jacaltecos and the way they are shaped in adverse circumstances. The book provides a deeper understanding of how religious concepts, practices, everyday-experience, and the experience of violence are intensely interrelated in re-constructing identity and how this enables individuals to cope with borders in the many senses of the term.' Journal of Contemporary Religion 'This is a book which asks us to rethink the processes of intellectual enclosure in which we place the subjects of our research. It does so through a beautifully written account of Mayan... identities and culture in transition.' The Global Review of Ethnopolitics 'It is a frequently moving and inspiring story and the issues discussed are particularly pertinent today in a world where many indigenous communities, cultures and ways of life are dying out and disappearing, never to be recovered.' British Bulletin of Publications on Latin America, the Caribbean, Portugal and Spain