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Global Cafe: Materiality, Social Memory and Identity Politics: Reflections on Maya Identity and Culture Heritage at Copán, Honduras

Global Cafe: Materiality, Social Memory and Identity Politics

Date: Time: 12:00 pm–1:00 pm
Oldfather Hall Room: 430G
Additional Info: OLDH
Contact: Emira Ibrahimpasic, emira@unl.edu
You’re invited to join us for the first Global Cafe of 2021-2022:

Materiality, Social Memory and Identity Politics: Reflections on Maya Identity and Culture Heritage at Copán, Honduras
Presented by Elisandro Garza

Wednesday, November 17, 2021
12:00-1:00PM
Oldfather 430G or via Zoom at GO.UNL.EDU/COPAN
Food and Refreshments Served

Abstract:
Influenced by theoretical discussions on evolution and cultural diffusion, the American explorer John L. Stephen (1841) questioned the cultural links between the ancient city in ruins and the modern population inhabiting the Copan valley. As a respond to Stephen’s intellectual curiosity, archaeologists have suggested that the Ch’ortí linguistic community inhabiting Copan and its surrounding areas are the descendants of the Classic period (ca. 426-822 CE) Maya population (Fash 1991). This logic as argued by Scott Hutson “creates interesting expectations about the role that the ancient Maya ruins play in contemporary native identities” (2009:143; see also Maca 2009). In modern Copan, and Honduras in general, there is a strong contrast between archaeological arguments on cultural links between past and present populations, and the plurality of modern social identity discourses including Ladinos, Ch’orti’-Maya, Campensinos, Jornaleros, among other sociocultural and economic categories which are a byproduct of Spanish colonialism in the Maya area. The case of heritage distancing by local Copanecos is in part the result of centuries of indigenous discrimination linked to the construction of the nation-state in modern Honduras, as well as an outcome of anthropological discussion and applications of cultural particularism and evolutionary models to material interpretations. This lecture invites archaeologists to rethink the type of recollection they do about the past, how it affects native populations, and the impact, positive and negative, of archaeological practice in the cultural heritage.

Speaker Biography:
Melvin Elisandro Garza, commonly known by his middle name, was born in the small town of Copan; a tourist attraction known for its Mayan ruins located in western Honduras. After studying Mayan Archaeology in Guatemala City, he is now a PhD candidate in Archaeology at the Graduate Center, CUNY. His intellectual interests in ancient societies and curiosity in historical processes has led him to participate in different archaeological projects in Honduras, Guatemala, and Peru. For the last couple of years, Elisandro worked as a teaching and librarian assistant at Universidad del Valle de Guatemala; and for the past three yaers he’s served as a Lecturer and Adjunct Professor at Lehman College. Most recently Elisandro has acted as field-archaeologist for the Proyecto Rescate de Rosalila in his hometown. His research interests include pre-Columbian markets, human mobility, archaeology of space and place, and the role of archaeology in nationalism and identity.

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This event originated in School of Global Integrative Studies.