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date: 28 June 2022

Managing Heritage Sites and the Politics of Cultural Continuity in Mesoamericalocked

Managing Heritage Sites and the Politics of Cultural Continuity in Mesoamericalocked

  • Fernando Armstrong-FumeroFernando Armstrong-FumeroSmith College

Summary

The dynamic between indigenous descendant communities, archaeologists, and other heritage professionals in Mexico and Central America embodies a distinct regional history of relations between native peoples and the state. In contrast to the United States and other regions, where indigenous polities have a history of legal sovereignty, the legacy of Spanish colonialism has created few parallel avenues for native Mesoamericans. Linguistic, cosmological, and social continuities between living and ancient indigenous populations have long been an emphasis of Mesoamericanist anthropology. Nevertheless, laws for the management of heritage in those countries often marginalize descendant communities from the use and stewardship of the material traces left behind by their ancestors. The ethical dimensions of this dynamic are further complicated by the fact that many activities that are criminalized by existing heritage laws are, in fact, consistent with long-standing traditions of landscape use and material recycling in these societies. Lacking the sovereignty principle that shapes interactions between indigenous communities and archaeologists in the United States, a more inclusive practice of heritage in Mesoamerica involves new kinds of pragmatic dialogue and accommodation.

Subjects

  • Archaeology
  • Histories of Anthropology
  • International and Indigenous Anthropology
  • Sociocultural Anthropology

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