Arts & Culture 2020

Maya People and Maya Pasts

Thu Sep 24, 2020
6:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Event Video

For more than a hundred years, the Maya have captured the popular imagination and cultivated scholarly curiosity. Known for their imposing architecture, hieroglyphic writing and sophisticated calendar, the Maya were among only a handful of groups independently to develop agriculture, establish large sedentary centers and develop socially complex hierarchical societies.

Too often, however, contemporary Maya peoples have little or no say in how Maya history is studied, how it is described in magazines and textbooks, or how it is presented to tourists, including the millions who visit Cancun and the Maya Riviera each year.  Nor do Maya peoples usually benefit financially from the lucrative tourism industry that is focused, in significant part, on Maya culture.

This presentation will consider how archaeologists can work with and for marginalized groups who want to tell their own stories and benefit from their own histories. Specifically, this presentation will take as its case study Punta Laguna: a contemporary community, Maya-led ecotourist attraction, spider monkey reserve and archaeological site located in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.

Our virtual programs are graciously sponsored by Alpine Bank. Colorado Humanities and the National Endowment for the Humanities have also provided funding as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act economic stabilization plan of 2020.

Event Video


Sarah Kurnick

Sarah Kurnick

Assistant Professor of Anthropology

University of Colorado, Boulder