The mysterious and the invisible: Writing history in and of colonial Yucatan

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This brief essay argues that studying the non-Spanish inhabitants of Yucatan's past requires bridging the social distance generated by differences of time and culture and that the specific nature of that distance must first be understood. With respect to the Mayas, their mystique in the modern popular and academic imaginations is as much the creation of Maya elites in ancient and colonial times as it is the product of archaeologists and historians. To demystify the Maya, we must engage mundane as well as exotic sources and be aware of the obfuscating influence of those who interpreted Maya culture before us. A complete picture of colonial Yucatan and of the colonial Mayas must include Afro-Yucatecans, or Africans and their descendents in the peninsula. Rendered invisible by historical processes and lack of scholarly attention, Afro-Yucatecans must be fully examined if we are to fully grasp the Yucatec experience, including the Yucatec Maya experience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)393-400
Number of pages8
JournalAncient Mesoamerica
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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