Maya heritage: Entangled and transformed

Scott R. Hutson, Galvin Can Herrera, Gabriel Adrian Chi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


This article discusses two aspects of heritage-entanglement and transformation-that became clear during a recent cultural heritage project in Yucatan, Mexico. Regarding entanglement, heritage becomes relevant only when coupled with other concerns, ranging from politics to livelihood to personal biographies. An unpredictable array of entanglements came into being during the project and these entanglements elevated the impact and visibility of local heritage to an unanticipated degree. Transformation refers to the claim that heritage is not frozen in the past. Instead, it is in motion and subject to change. The transformations of heritage discussed in this paper are examined from the perspective of a mobilities paradigm and understood, in part, as resulting from the experience of performing heritage for outsiders for the first time. In so far as the heritage project precipitated changes in identity, this paper explores what is meant by Maya identity and argues that it is a fluid construct that can be both anchored in the past and negotiated in the present. This perspective makes sense of an event in which contemporary people anchored their identity in a spectacular 1000-year-old ruin, but falls short of explaining the uneven recognition of smaller ruins.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)376-392
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Heritage Studies
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 19 2014


  • Maya
  • Yucatan
  • archaeology
  • heritage
  • identity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Conservation
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management
  • Museology


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