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Art, Architecture, and Film
Beginning his study in the mid-nineteenth century, with the first mechanically reproduced and mass distributed images of the Mayan ruins, and ending with recent works that address this history of representation, Lerner argues that Maya modernism is the product of an ongoing pan-American modernism characterized by a continuing series of reinterpretations, collaborations, and exchanges in which Yucatecans, Mexicans and foreigners, mestizos, Mayas, and others all participate and are free to endorse, misunderstand, reinterpret, or reject each other’s ideas.
Quadripartite Crosses, Trees, and Stones
Although anthropologists have been observing and analyzing the religious practices of Mayan people for about a hundred years, this perceptive study suggests that anthropological interpretation of those practices and of Maya cosmology has never escaped the epistemological influence of Christianity. Whereas sacred objects used in Christian rituals are treated with deifying awe, objects such as Mayan crosses can be recycled, bartered with, communicated with, manipulated, disregarded, or destroyed—the apparent equivalent of extorting or defacing a holy image of Christ or the Virgin Mary. Astor-Aguilera holds that we cannot fully understand these indigenous practices by fitting them to our European Cartesian mindset but must instead recognize and try to understand native Mayan epistemology.
An Artist's Journey
Phillip Hofstetter first visited Yucatán in 1987 and was entranced, as much by the sheer physical beauty of the region as by the enduring character of the Maya people still inhabiting the region. For more than twenty years he has been documenting his travels in Yucatán and his professional collaboration with archaeological excavation projects there. His reflections on the Maya culture emphasize survival and adaptation, while images of ancient sites, the churches of the Franciscan mission period, and the ruined haciendas of the henequen period serve as physical reminders of the enduring ways in which the Maya have shaped the landscape of Yucatán over millennia.
Gender, Sexuality, and Money on the Miskito Coast
Approximately 90 percent of Miskitu boys and men in the Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve along the north coast of Honduras have worked as deepwater divers in the lobster industry and their participation has left an indelible imprint on their society. While lobster diving is lucrative, it is also a life-threatening occupation and many divers have been injured or killed from decompression sickness—locally referred to as liwa mairin siknis (Mermaid sickness). According to Miskitu folklore, the Mermaid is the main water spirit, owner of all fresh and saltwater resources and capable of punishing male divers for extracting too many of her lobsters. Wary of the wrath of the supernatural liwa mairin, these men face another threat on shore: Miskitu women who use sexual magic—praidi saihka—as a tool to control men’s wages and ensure that they continue to provide them with money.
Interspersed with short stories, songs, and incantations, The Mermaid and the Lobster Diver demonstrates the archetypes of femininity and masculinity within Miskitu society, highlighting the power associated with women’s sexuality—as manifested in both goddess and human form—and the vulnerable position of men.
Taking a political economic approach, Schneider examines the conditions under which community-based health groups are emerging and explores the ways different constituencies address health dilemmas. She delineates future roles for new participants in health care, new models of community health, and a new medical pluralism.
Between Liberal Individual and Revolutionary Social Rights, 1867-1934
Although Mexico’s Constitution of 1917 mandated the division of large landholdings, provided land for the landless, and guaranteed workers the rights to organize, strike, and bargain collectively, it also guaranteed fundamental liberal rights to property and due process that enabled property owners and employers to resist the implementation of the new social rights by filing suit in federal court. Taking as its main focus the way new and old rights were adjudicated before the Supreme Court, this book is the first to examine the subject through the lens of court documents and the writings and commentaries of jurists and other legal professionals. The author asks and answers the question, how did the judicial interpretation of the Constitution of 1917 become a barrier to implementing agrarian land rights and labor legislation in the years immediately following Mexico’s social revolution of 1910?
Past, Politics, and Prospects
History has left us a classic image of western mining in the grizzly forty-niner squatting by a clear stream sifting through gravel to reveal gold. What this slice of Western Americana does not reveal, however, is thousands of miners doing the same, their gravel washing downstream, causing the water to grow dark with debris while trout choke to death and wash ashore. Instead of the havoc wreaked upon the western landscape, we are told stories of American enterprise, ingenuity, and fortune.
The General Mining Act of 1872, which declared all valuable mineral deposits on public lands to be free and open to exploration and purchase, has had a controversial impact on the western environment as, under the protection of federal law, various twentieth-century entrepreneurs have manipulated it in order to dump waste, cut timber, create resorts, and engage in a host of other activities damaging to the environment. In this in-depth analysis, legal historian Gordon Morris Bakken traces the roots of the mining law and details the way its unintended consequences have shaped western legal thought from Nome to Tombstone and how it has informed much of the lore of the settlement of the West.
Education Reform and the Cold War, 1960–1980
In the 1960s and 1970s, El Salvador’s reigning military regime instituted a series of reforms that sought to modernize the country and undermine ideological radicalism, the most ambitious of which was an education initiative. It was multifaceted, but its most controversial component was the use of televisions in classrooms. Launched in 1968 and lasting until the eve of civil war in the late 1970s, the reform resulted in students receiving instruction through programs broadcast from the capital city of San Salvador. The Salvadoran teachers’ union opposed the content and the method of the reform and launched two massive strikes. The military regime answered with repressive violence, further alienating educators and pushing many of them into guerrilla fronts.
In this thoughtful collaborative study, the authors examine the processes by which education reform became entwined in debates over theories of modernization and the politics of anticommunism. Further analysis examines how the movement pushed the country into the type of brutal infighting that was taking place throughout the third world as the U.S. and U.S.S.R. struggled to impose their political philosophies on developing countries.