Maya Cultural Activism in Guatemala marks a new era in Guatemalan studies by offering an up-to-the-minute look at the pan-Maya movement and the future of the Maya people as they struggle to regain control over their cultural destiny. The successful emergence of what is in some senses a nationalism grounded in ethnicity and language has challenged scholars to reconsider their concepts of nationalism, community, and identity.
Editors Edward F. Fischer and R. McKenna Brown have brought together essays by virtually all the leading U.S. experts on contemporary Maya communities and the top Maya scholars working in Guatemala today. Supplementing scholarly analysis of Mayan cultural activism is a position statement originating within the movement and more wide-ranging and personal reflections by anthropologists and linguists who have worked with the Maya over the years. Among the broader issues that come in for examination are the complex relations between U.S. Mayanists and the Mayan cultural movement, efforts to promote literacy in Mayan languages, the significance of woven textiles and native dress, the relations between language and national identity, and the cultural meanings that the present-day Maya have encountered in ancient Mayan texts and hieroglyphic writing.