In this rich and dynamic work, David Carey Jr. provides a new
perspective on contemporary Guatemalan history by allowing the
indigenous peoples to speak for themselves.
Combining the methodologies of anthropology and history, Carey
uses both oral interviews and meticulous archival research to
construct a history of the last 130 years in Guatemala from the
perspective of present-day Mayan people. His research took place
over five years, including intensive language study, four summers
of fieldwork, and a year-long residence in Comalapa, during which
he conducted most of the 414 interviews. By casting a wide net for
his interviews--from tiny hamlets to bustling Guatemala City--Carey
gained insight into more than a single community or a single group
The Maya-Kaqchikel record their history through oral tradition;
thus, few written accounts exist. Comparing the Kaqchikel point of
view to that of the western scholars and Ladinos who have written
most of the history texts, Carey reveals the people and events
important to the Maya, which have been virtually written out of the
A motto of the Guatemalan organization "Maya Decinio para el
Pueblo Indigena" (Maya Decade for the Indigenous People) is that
people who do not know their past cannot build a future. By
elucidating what the Kaqchikel think of their own past, Carey also
illuminates the value of non-Western theoretical and methodological
approaches that can be applied to the history of other peoples.
Valuable to historians, anthropologists, archaeologists, or anyone
interested in Mayan and Latin American studies, this book will
inform as well as enchant.
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