The current Maya and all of this “end-of-the-world” non-sense

Posted on Dec 21, 2012 | No Comments
Maya Cultural Mosaic

Maya Cultural Mosaic
Painter: Marcelo Jiménez Santos
Photographer: Miguel Cetina

My friend and colleague Cristina Santinho, a health anthropologist from ISCTE-IUL, in Lisbon, Portugal, posted on her Facebook page (and allow me to translate):

“On a second thought, the END of THIS world is not a bad idea. The social catastrophes caused by corrupt politicians and technocrats (…) must end. The Maya mentioned the end of an era. What are we waiting for, to start another one, more just and free?”

Pensando bem, até que o fim DESTE mundo não é má ideia. As catástrofes sociais produzidas por políticos corruptos e tecnocratas (…) têm mesmo que acabar. Os Maias falavam do fim de uma era. De que estamos à espera, para começar outra, mais justa e livre?

When we started the Maya Project this summer we realised that many, many people thought the Maya were extinct. When we opened the science-based exhibition at Loughborough University colleagues, students and the community in general commented on how much they had learned about the living Maya and how important these initiatives were. The same happened in Lisbon, Portugal when we opened last month there. Teresa Castillo wrote a summary of the opening of the exhibition in Lisbon. It is in Spanish but I will translate it to English in the next couple of days.

For the first time ever I have been interviewed on the papers and participated in several radio shows. We always started by talking about the “end of the world prophecy”, the Maya calendar and all the media hype feeding this non-sense. However, in most cases, we ended up talking about what is really important. We talked about the 6-7 million Mayas who live in Mexico, Guatemala, Belize and in several migrant communities in the US. We mentioned the way they live, what concerns them, what Pre-Colombian practices do they still incorporate in their lives, how women are important in the Maya communities,  and we showed a bit of what happens when they migrate.

Because… this is the mission of the Maya Project:

– to disseminate science through art,

– to publicise the work of the wonderful Maya artists and photographers who joined us and kindly donated their work to the project,

– to keep producing high quality research focused on the living Maya,

– to work WITH the Maya by tailoring our research questions to their needs (not just for the sake of another paper published or another grant proposal submission),

– To make this  14th Bak’tum, starting today, the beginning of a new era. More just, more free and more egalitarian.

The Maya Project website is also an academic and scientific repository of published materials about the Maya. For each topic there is a reading list powered by Mendeley. So, here they are, the five reading lists we made so scholars can easily access a considerable bulk of information about the Maya: Living Conditions, Nutrition and Health, Religion, Women’s Roles, and Migration.

We hope this blog entry is useful. We hope this new Bak’tum brings very many good things, we wish you a wonderful holiday…

Thank you

From all of us at the Maya Project.

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