Silvia Sanchez Diaz

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Kansas, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9843

Approve Date

April 29, 2019

Project Title

Sánchez Diaz, Silvia (Kansas, U. of) "Curating the History of a Maya Kaqchikel Town: An Ethnography of Digitized Objects, Indigeneity, and Cultural Activism"

Anthropologists have long studied how indigenous identities challenge the effects of colonial dispossession. Within this engaged academic tradition, Mesoamerican scholars have found that objects of cultural significance—such as textiles and literature—revindicate Maya identity and contribute to their self-determination. Expanding this body of literature, this ethnographic research investigates the role of digitized objects in Maya cultural activism by curating the history of a Maya Kaqchikel town. In Pa Su’m, Iximulew, Maya Kaqchikel language, dress, etiquette, recipes, and medicine have enjoyed remarkable continuity through historical challenges, while milpa agriculture and the cofradía system have gradually been abandoned. As patzunero/as continue rearticulating their livelihoods, traditions, and identities, this research investigates how objects of cultural significance serve as agents of cultural revitalization. I am curating a digital collection of historical documents, photography collections, textiles, and literary texts relevant to the history of Pa Su’m. Through the lenses of the social life of things, I examine how these digitized objects embody Maya Kaqchikel living culture and give meaning to contemporary forms of cultural activism. After launching the digital collection, I will assess how rural, urban, literate, illiterate, young, and old patzunero/as use these objects to redefine what it means to be Maya Kaqchikel.