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Volume 55 / Social Sciences

ANTHROPOLOGY: ETHNOLOGY


Middle America

PAUL SULLIVAN, Independent Consultant, Port Jefferson, New York


EVEN AS THE CHIAPAS REBELLION drew national and international attention to poverty and political conflict in at least one region of Mexico, the spectacle of masked Tzeltal rebels highlighted the growing importance of ethnicity in Mesoamerican studies. A quarter of the works cited in this section, and a great many lesser pieces not included here, explore one aspect or another of the complex interrelationship between ethnicity, class, political conduct, and religious change. Frans Schryer's very detailed, insightful and novel study of land invasions in the Huasteca is the most notable contribution to this strengthening trend in Mesoamerican anthropology and history (item bi 94016042). Even as Schreyer's data challenges any ready assumptions about ethnic identity, class position, and political affiliation, shorter works cited provoke a fundamental reassessment of the nature of ethnic identity and the factors which lead to its loss or, as we are ever surprised to discover, its resurgence. The rich, diverse anthology entitled Zapotec struggles (item bi 94016054) assures that in any such reassessment the case of Zapotec revival and politicization in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec will receive deserved attention, while reports such as those of Warren (items bi 94001995 and bi 95015321) alert us to the revival of ethnicity and the creation of a pan-Maya identity and nationalism in Guatemala with powerful potential to reshape ethnic realities beyond the borders of that nation. Concerning the still emerging consequences of civil war in Guatemala, special note should be taken of Stoll's very timely study of the Ixil Triangle (item bi 94016043), an important study which, like Schryer's mentioned above, challenges many of our discipline's often taken-for-granted assertions about ethnicity, class, and political struggle in the Mesoamerican countryside.


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