Francisco Diaz

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Pennsylvania, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 10106

Approve Date

April 8, 2021

Project Title

Diaz, Francisco (Pennsylvania, U. of) "Becoming Mayanist: Reconsidering the Invention of the Maya"

FRANCISCO DIAZ, then a graduate student at Univeristy of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was awarded a grant in April 2021 to aid research on “Becoming Mayanist: Reconsidering the Invention of the Maya,” supervised by Dr. Richard M. Leventhal. Living Maya people have long been rendered by Western researchers in racialized, demeaning, and condescending ways that contrast with the reverence these researchers hold for the archaeological remains of the ancient Maya past. This project turns the anthropological lens onto these researchers, examining the origins of research on the Maya in order to see how this research co-opted and distorted Indigenous histories. The grantee conducted a critical, decolonial ethnographic reading of the first Mayanist research produced by the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard, the Carnegie Institution of Washington, and the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Using publications and digitized archival documents and photos, the grantee located and tracked the living Maya who participated in ethnographic and archaeological research and their contributions to the research process and the ways that Mayanist researchers rendered and constructed anthropological notions of Maya culture. In the process, the engagement between Maya people, Mayanist researchers, and the contexts in which they interacted and operated demonstrate how Indigenous people have actively participated’ but been buried ‘since the beginning of research on themselves and their past.