Evon Zartman Vogt's Fieldwork among the Maya: reflections on the Harvard Chiapas PDF

By Evon Zartman Vogt

ISBN-10: 082631502X

ISBN-13: 9780826315021

Fieldwork one of the Maya is a private chronicle of the Harvard Chiapas venture, written through the guy who initiated it in 1957 and guided it via thirty-five years of in depth ongoing learn. starting together with his formative years in New Mexico and insights into how and why he turned an anthropologist, Vogt strikes directly to describe the foremost positive factors of the Chiapas undertaking, which used to be a long-range ethnographic application to explain systematically, for the 1st time, and to investigate the Tzotzil-Maya cultures of the distant highlands of Chiapas. The objective was once to appreciate how those modern Mayas are concerning the prehistoric vintage Maya and the way their cultures are altering as they confront the fashionable global. holding a fragile stability among the technical and the non-public, Vogt reviews on adjustments in anthropological kinds and strategies, describes in vibrant phrases (often funny, occasionally poignant) the daily lives of the researchers and their informants, and depicts truly the thrill, the rewards, and the risks encountered within the box via social antrhropologists.

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Franz Boas's opposition to prevailing theories of evolution led to more field ethnography and a more cautious interpretation of ethnographic facts. Indeed, from 1900 to about 1930 southwestern ethnologists treated culture as a number of discrete traits or elements, an approach ex-emplified in such works as Leslie Spier's (1928) Havasupai Ethnography and Elsie Clews Parsons' Pueblo Indian Religion (1939). Changes in concepts of culture, under the combined influence of Radcliffe-Brown (with Page 18 his functionalist theory) and of Edward Sapir and Ruth Benedict (with their notions of cultural patterning and of culture as psychological phenomena) led to a shift in the 1930s to a view of culture as a system in which the elements or traits made a "contribution" to the whole (Basso 1979: 17).

The Chiapas Highlands rise to more than nine thousand feet, with fertile upland valleys at seven thousand feet, and are composed of rugged limestone and volcanic mountains. Like all of Mexico, Chiapas has marked wet and dry seasons. While the winters are dry, the heavy summer rains nourish the crops of maize, beans, and squash that feed the relatively dense populations of these contemporary Maya farmers. On the summit of the Highlands, the climate is cool and the scenery is beautiful, with the mountains cloaked in magnificent pine and oak forestsan ideal cultural and natural setting for a long-range anthropological field project.

Aunt Dorothy and Uncle Andrés later moved to Ranchos de Taos, and after my aunt's death, Andrés became close friends with the writer John Nichols. Andrés became one of the protagonists in Nichols's famous book and film, The Milagro Beanfield War, and the book is dedicated to him. My job during the shearing operations was either to tie up the fleeces and carry them to the large wool sack or to help pack the wool down in the large sack. I hated both tasks for it was hot and sticky from the weather, the machinery, the oily wool, and the body heat of sheep and shearers.

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Fieldwork among the Maya: reflections on the Harvard Chiapas Project by Evon Zartman Vogt


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