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The War for the Heart and Soul of a Highland Maya Town Paperback – January 1, 1997

1 customer review
ISBN-13: 978-0292711945 ISBN-10: 0292711948 Edition: First Edition

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Editorial Reviews

Review

A vivid, complex, and concise portrait of cultural continuity, social cohesion, and conflict in a town of Tzutujil Maya-speaking people of Guatemala.... Carlsen launches into an exploration of the capacity of these people to persist through centuries of oppression and of the culture to survive and regenerate even under circumstances of extreme violent repression.... a novel and eminently readable approach to local-level social and cultural history. (Choice)

Review

Carlsen's descriptions of rituals and beliefs are extremely valuable and detailed... and will be particularly useful to students of the ancient and modern Maya. (Linda Schele)
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 1 - 17 years
  • Grade Level: 1 and up
  • Paperback: 249 pages
  • Publisher: University of Texas Press; First Edition edition (January 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0292711948
  • ISBN-13: 978-0292711945
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,921,184 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 21, 1998
Format: Paperback
Robert Carlsen: The War for the Heart and Soul of a Highland Maya Town, Austin: University of Texas Press, 1997.
E. Michael Mendelson writes: The subject of this extremely well written and readable book is Santiago Atitlan, the largest town of the Tzutujil Indians on one of the world's most beautiful volcanic lakes: Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. The town has long been famous with tourists and with anthropologists who have been studying it since at least the Nineteen Twenties. One of the principal deities in the Maya-Christian religious syncretism of Atitlan-the Maximon or Mam-even made Time Magazine coverage when it was attacked by Catholic clergy in the 1950s.
In a sense, the attempted conquest of the Maya and Maya resistance to it have continued from the 16th century Spanish Conquest down to the 20th century Civil War (in most ways a war against the Maya Indians) and Carlsen does a brilliant job of investigating four centuries of both continuity and change. In the last half century, a major crisis has been developing on the lake due to increased population and shortage of land. The move of so many local Maya from agriculture to commerce may be the reason why, Carlsen argues, traditional native religion-agriculture based-is having a hard time surviving against Orthodox and Charismatic Catholicism, militant Evangelical Protestantism, and contemporary media-driven culture. Commerce is not doing sufficiently well to save the town when set in the context of Guatemalan capitalism, itself vulnerable to increasing globalization. Further undermining the situation has been the Civil War, culminating in the December 2nd 1990 massacre of civilians by the Army-though local pride in forcing the Army out the town as a result of the massacre remains strong.
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