Wednesday, July 30, 2008

New Youth Photos

I am continually updating the “Youth Photography” album, so click on it to see some of the most recent and best pictures they have taken.


Saturday, July 26, 2008

New Portraits

Over the past few weeks I have added dozens of new photos. Just click on the “Portraits” and “Pets” albums to see the newest pictures.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A visit to Hacienda Regadio and Holca

While doing an internship 10 years ago, I briefly visited the abandoned sugarcane plantation of Regadio and the nearby community of Holca. On Sunday, July 20th some of my friends from Xualtez invited me visit the two places again. Holca is in the same municipality as Xualtez, and although it is closer to the much larger and mostly Spanish speaking municipal seat of Espita, the entire community speaks Maya. In Xualtez, where I am based, as well as in nearby Tusik, few people under 30 years old speak Maya. As part of my ongoing research about the rural youth of Yucatan and culture change, I have been conducting interviews this summer to determine the historical circumstances that account for the shift from speaking Maya to Spanish in Xualtez and Tuzik while the other communities in the same municipality are still composed of both young and old Maya speakers. One of the primary factors that accounts for this change is the opening of the community with roads and other forms of communication and trade that connect larger towns where Spanish is mostly spoken. Holca is more representative of the rest municipality because it lies several kilometers off the only road that connects the community to the principal highway between the larger municipality heads of Sucila and Espita. The fact that there is only one road to go in and out of Holca has helped keep it much more linguistically traditional. Below are a few of the pictures that I took while I was there and at the hacienda Regadio. You can see them full size by clicking on my “Portraits” album.


Saturday, July 19, 2008

My first Cha’a Chaak Ceremony

On Sunday, July 13 leaving the community of Tixbacab for Tuzik to watch a youth soccer championship, I noticed several men in on the edge of the road. I went back to where they had cut a small area out of the jungle and set up an altar for the Cha’a Chaak rain ceremony. In a pit where they had dug out the rich, red earth they were just finishing cooking several sets of large tortillas for offerings. I talked to some of the men about the ceremony since I had never witnessed one before, but I knew it was done more often in the traditional corn growing regions to the south as opposed to this northern cattle ranching area. One man told me that it had been four years since they had done it in Tixbacab and that it was a dying tradition. I told him I knew that they had not done it in the other communities where I spent most of my time and he said that it is because so many people don’t believe in it anymore. This ceremony is significant because it is one of the very few that has not mixed to the same degree with Catholicism as most other ceremonies, so it remains more traditionally Maya. I returned to Tuzik, and then on to Xualtez under darkening skies that a few minutes later opened up for a three hour downpour. Click below for a few photos.
Cha'a Chaak


Monday, July 14, 2008

Excursion to Ek Balam

On July 6 I took my group of photographers to the ruins of Ek Balam. I wanted to give them a chance to travel out of their village, learn more about Maya archeology, take pictures and just have fun. Once there, we explored the reconstructed ruins and climbed the main structure measuring 96 feet in height and got a wonderful view of the rest of the ruins and the surrounding forest. On the right you can click on the “Ek Balam” slideshow to see pictures that both I and my group took. Below you can click on the short video that I made from the excursion.


Saturday, July 12, 2008

Viewing Photo Albums

When you click on one of the slideshows to the right and it takes you to the album, I suggest you click the button above the small versions of the pictures that says “Slideshow” with a little green arrow. This will give you a fuller screen view with a non-distracting black background and you will see larger versions of the pictures. Click on the X when you want to back to the regular album view.

I have spent very little time in areas with internet access so I have only been able to get the pictures posted and I apologize for not having captions for them. If you have questions about them please feel free to email me and although it may take a while, I will answer your questions.


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Youth Photo Exhibit a Success

Over a span of about an hour and a half some 100 people came out on July 2 to see the youth photo exhibit where we displayed 24 pictures at Xualtez’s town hall. The parents of the young people who exhibited their photos, along with dozens of other community members, came to enjoy their artwork. Below you can see a picture from the event and to see more you can click on the slideshow on the right called “Xualtez Photography Project” In the same album you can see them preparing their pictures for the exhibit. There is also an album called “Youth Photography” that contains photos they have recently taken, some of which will be used for a future exhibit.


Saturday, July 5, 2008

Uncontacted Tribe of the Amazon Recently Photographed

While the majority of indigenous peoples' cultures and languages have been decimated, it is great to see stories like this that educate the public about the existence of a handful of uncontacted and autonomous peoples relatively free of the forces of Westernization and globalization even after 500 years of colonization. This is our chance to learn about the complex issues of politics and globalization like when governments struggle to curb illegal logging, oil drilling and other activities that will eventually expose that remaining peoples to the path of cultural destruction. This story appeared on various mainstream media sources, both online and on television. I only hope that this exposure opens Westerners' eyes to the importance of protecting these uncontacted peoples and does not have the opposite effect of claims that, "I can't believe people still live like that in 2008. We need to spread to them the wonderful material things that we enjoy." This is an extremely ethnocentric view that assumes that they would want to adopt our ways and that homogenization and the loss of their culture is acceptable, assuming that our culture and technology is better anyway. The study of anthropology is one way to expose ideas such as cultural relativism, which provides a different kind of view by judging cultures on their own terms. After all, who are we to say that the way we live and think is the best? Sounds a little arrogant to me. See the whole story here: Survival International and Cultural Survival are the two main non-profit organizations working to protect indigenous peoples' rights.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

New Photos

New Photos

I have added several photos to my “Portraits” album including ones from both the primary and secondary schools. Classes are winding down and students are mostly practicing their dance routines for their graduation ceremonies.

I have also created a new "Pets” folder where you can see children with a variety of animals. This time of year it is easy to capture young, wild animals found while working on ranches, collecting firewood or while hunting. The Yucatan’s yellow-lored parrot is the most common wild animal that becomes a pet, however occasionally you will see families with white-tail deer and young coatis, or pizotes as they are known locally.