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Mesoamerican Ethnography: Experience and Theory Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: May 28th, 2020

Pre-historically, the communities that occupied the Mesoamerican were village agriculturalists with large ceremonial-politico-religious capitals. Guatemala is a region in the Mesoamerica that contains twenty three languages. In this region, the oppression of the poor is evidenced by how the rich treat the poor. The poor people are required to perform heavy duties with very little pay such that they are not even able to cater for their own lives. This causes the poor to live a very desperate life which makes them loose the little they own thus making them even poorer to the extent of serving as slaves to the rich (Menchu 2).

Another aspect that has been raised in the reading materials is the mismatch in the anthropological referenced schemes and the real conceptualized fieldwork. This is due to the anthropologists’ inability to relate the archeological materials created, used and disposed by the historical community to how the materials were in use and how the materials have changed with time. There is also inability to show how those materials to show how they relate to the societal organization. Ethnography encompasses the study of how people in the past may have lived and more so regarding their social structures, religious beliefs and also other aspects of cultural life (Hustrup 13).

From one point of view, there is an identifiable difference in the culture which is an implication analyzed on a society and that specific society which is an empirical entity. Culture is a practical occurrence of events which constantly face the risk of alteration with time and environment. The most probable way to deal with the radically differing culture is to take the consideration of one person rather than the whole community. This shows that the situation of culture is weathering away in the combined grouping of the society has reached its climax. For instance, the American public rituals have been described as ironic. This is because the conscious participant or observer is viewed as one of the valid public group displays that may have very little patience for their audience (Marcus and Fischer 45).

Sylvanus Morley, an ancient scholar, wrote about the Maya people in 1910. The cultural images and history that he presented while working on the Yukatek-Maya area have become vital in the creation of a prototype of the Maya people in general. The generalization of the people while studying one group may cause a spread of distorted information. This can be seen clearly in the writing of the Maya names by Landa who distorted their meaning and form. In this way, he distorted the Maya cultural tradition.

This happened because of the generalization of the Yukatek-Mayan terms. In the same way, the days of the week in the Mayan calendar have been branded with the names from the Yukatek-Mayan community, even though all the linguistic communities have their specific names. These Yukatek-Mayan names of days have found their way into the Maya of Guatemala even though they have their own names for the days (Montejo 45).

In anthropological writing, the understanding of development of a culture should be able to show the way in which the cultures develop themselves. This involves serious investigation taken from the lived space. This sphere of study is definitely made up of people and their actions. For that reason, it is clear that for an implied culture to be able to signify the analytical object of anthropology, a counterpart in the real world should have existed (Hastrup 19).

When comparing the contemporary experimental ethnography with the classic ethnography, a difference in the quality of eliciting the narrative point of view emerges. The old ethnographers were very effective in creating vivid idea of the fieldworkers’ situation and romanticizing it to show how exotic customs made sense. In this situation, some of the most interesting contemporary ethnography displayed the field workers’ situations as very unbearable and disturbing for the readers. The current exploration displays indigenous epistemology, rhetorical, aesthetic criteria and sensibilities. This is more related to the way the Greek, Roman, and European culture were previously related.

Works Cited

Hastrup, Kirsten. A passage to anthropology, between experience and theory. New York: Routledge publishers. 1995. Print.

Marcus, George and Michael Fischer. Anthropology as cultural critique An Experimental Moment in the Human Sciences. Chicago: University of Chicago press. 1996. Print.

Menchu, Rigoberta. “The Family” In I Rigoberta Menchú: An Indian Woman in Guatemala. New York: Verso. 1992. Print.

Montejo, Victor. Voices from exile: violence and survival in modern Maya history. Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press. 1999. Print.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Mesoamerican Ethnography: Experience and Theory'. 28 May.

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