Home 603 Mesoamerica Cultures

Book List

Week 1-2 Carmack

Week 3 Whisnat

Week 4 Whisnat

Week 5 Whisnat

Week 6 Nash

Week 6 Essay 1 Question

Week 6 Essay

Week 7 Nash

Week 8 Manz

Week 9 Manz

Week 10 Binford

Week 11 Binford

Week 12 Oppenheimer

Week 12 Quinnones

Week 12 Essay 2 Question

Week 12 Essay 2

Week 13 Oppenheimer

Week 13 Quinnones

Week 14 Dow

Week 15 Dow

Final Paper


Victoria Kline
Anthropology 582: Mesoamerican Cultures
October 13, 2004
Dr. Ramona Perez

Mayan Visions: The Quest for Autonomy in an Age of Globalization, Part II

The Radical Democratic Mobilization, 1994-1996 seems to pretty much follow the video we were able to view in class last Wednesday (the 6th), The 6th Sun I think it was called. Subcomandante Marcos is a very smart man, and a great orator, he is the leader of the Zapatista rebellion, and so I am not sure why he is a sub rather than a Comandante in the rebellion army. Changes in the laws regarding property that directly and negatively influenced the campasinos and others in the Chiapas highlands and Lacandon rainforest made such an impact as to bring the people together in revolt against the government that began on January 1, 2004 with the Zapatista’s seizures of town halls. The government of Chiapas immediately militarized the Chiapas highlands and Lacandon rainforest. Nash discusses the negotiation meetings between the government, and the Zapatistas representing the people. According to Nash, many promises were made by the government but never kept in regards to land claims, and autonomy.

The years 1995-2000 resulted in much turmoil for the peoples of Chipas. There were many invasions of the Lacandon rainforest and highland villages by the government. Bishop Samuel Ruiz of the Catholic Church sought to protect the indigenes and reported on human rights violations by the government. The militarization of the rain forest and highlands resulted in one massacre at Acteal in the township of Chenalho in which many women and children were killed. This brought more intense scrutiny by other nations, who sent in representatives to report on the situation in Chiapas and disseminate the information to the world. The indigenous communities of Chiapas and the Zapatistas thereby gained international support for their efforts in their fight against oppression and injustices to the people.

For the marginalized peoples of the Chiapas highlands and Lacandon rainforest, the idea of autonomy is central. In the last chapter, Nash gives her view of how this marginalized culture of the Mayans has begun to be assimilated into the global economy, how they can be a part of the larger Mexican culture yet still retain their unique identity, language, and religious beliefs, and also change the parts that need to be changed such as the repression of women.

This is not my preferred style of reading. If I did not have to read this book I would have never finished it. Although I must admit that the writing style did not affect me in the same way as it did last week. I seemed to be able to read about women, and women’s groups, and women making demands much easier than reading about men in power, who was president when and what organizations sprang up around them. And in going back to the first three chapters, I realize that the writing style is the same. I thought, my gosh is the second half of the book written by someone else, or is Nash a schizophrenic? No, it ended up being my ability to follow along with different foci, and what kept my interest. I still think the writing is rather stiff, and tends towards the general rather than the specific. There are also excessive numbers of abbreviations used. Yet one that should have been abbreviated (in my opinion), “The Center for Human Rights, ‘Fray Bartolome de Las Casas’,” continued to be written out completely, over and over again! The writing is definitely biased to one side, and maybe it should be. The institution is a self-protecting entity. “The way it has always been,” or tradition, is one of the great arguments for why things are as they are. To change the status quo requires a great deal of courage, sacrifice, and determination. This is what Nash wished to show and I think she does a good job of covering many areas of inquiry.

Question: Caciques, are none of them good? Last week, I was of the opinion that not all of them could be bad. This week I am wondering if I even know what a cacique is. What I think a cacique is would be an indigenous man who is the leader of his pueblo. A leader is someone who wants the best for the group. But, the way I have been reading cacique this week is someone who takes command from government authority, and who benefits in some way from this relationship with the government, to the detriment of his people. Is the cacique a representative of the community that has been put in place by the government? Or, is his position in the community in which he is leader taken advantage of by the government (by offering incentives and prestige) because of his already in place position in the community? Do all caciques use their relationship with the government to raise their own status? Seems like a little mini-class system going on.
In some communities, the caciques use their position to sway the vote as in this statement where Nash says: “In some communities, men were also disenfranchised, since caciques filled in the ballots” (178). This seems like an abuse of power to me.

Question: One of my questions from the Whisnant reading had to do with women, the submission of women to power, the actual power of women to resist detrimental treatment, and the contribution of women to their own problems by being the bearer of culture or the parent who passes on knowledge and custom to the offspring. So, in Chapter 5 of Nash when she is citing a statement from a meeting of the ANIPA, her comment is “Women show a clear awareness of their responsibility in cultivation the practice of autonomy in society as well as in the home and family, since it is there that children are enculturated in the patterns that define future behavior. Women who live in fear of abuse, who accept subordination in the home, cultivate the sentiments that reproduce subordination and marginalization” (199-200). And when they do mobilize for change, they become targets for real physical violence. One instance given for an assault on a woman by security guards: a woman protestor at the Istapa town hall, protesting the corrupt “mayor was viciously assaulted by security forces, who kicked her in the head…detained for hours without medical treatment” the reason given for this treatment: “she did not merit medical attention because she should not have been out in the street” (182).


Nash, June C.
2001    Mayan Visions: The Quest for Autonomy in an Age of Globalization. New York: Routledge.

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