The Modern Maya

9780292726932: Hardback
Release Date: 1st March 2012

385 duotones, 1 map

Dimensions: 229 x 305

Number of Pages: 368

Series The William and Bettye Nowlin Series in Art, History, and Culture of the Western Hemisphere

University of Texas Press

The Modern Maya

Incidents of Travel and Friendship in Yucatán

Hardback / £43.00

Ancient Maya cities draw travelers from all over the world to Mexico’s Yucatán peninsula. But while tales of the “Maya collapse” give an air of mystery to the ruins, modern Maya still live in communities across the Yucatán, where they strive to maintain their culture and way of life despite centuries of political, social, and environmental disruption. Photographer Macduff Everton has spent more than four decades living and working among the Maya. His 1991 book on the modern Maya provided a superb photo-essay and ethnographic record of the Maya during a time of critical change and globalization. In this book, he masterfully updates his portrait of the modern Maya, while investigating the effects of NAFTA, tourism, the evangelical movement, world trade and maquiladoras, racism, sexism, and drugs on Maya communities.

Combining splendid photography of ancient Maya sites and modern Maya communities with an illuminating narrative, Everton takes us into the homes and lives of farmers and chicle gatherers, ranch hands and henequen workers, as well as the Mayan-speaking urbanites who work at the resorts on the Riviera Maya. His long acquaintance with the Maya allows him to tell dramatic stories of how individuals and families have seen a way of life that was centered around the milpa (farm) and the cultivation of tropical forest products transformed by the effects of globalization and the necessity to labor for wages. At the same time, Everton also reveals the amazing adaptability of the Maya, who hold onto the essence of their culture despite all the destructive pressures from the outside world.

  • Foreword: Macduff Everton's Yucatán by Carter Wilson
  • Acknowledgments
  • A Short History and the Legacy of the Maya Forest: An account of the ancient Maya and the collapse, or perhaps the slow crumble; in the field with archaeologists Anabel Ford and Scott Fedick, who find evidence that there wasn't an environmental catastrophe, and the legacy of the Maya Forest, a feral forest garden
  • Introduction: An account of the modern Maya: incidents of travel and friendship in Yucatán and how I met Charles Demangeat and Hilario Hiler; this book project now extends over four decades and includes important chapters in the lives of the Maya
  • I. The Milpa: An account of Dario Tuz Caamal, a Maya farmer, and his wife, Herculana Chi Pech; the Maya practice of growing vegetables, herbs, fruits, and hardwoods at their farm and home garden and agricultural traditions and ceremonies thousands of years old
  • II. The Milpa and Cancún: The continuing account of Dario Tuz Caamal and Herculana Chi Pech: his release from prison and finding work in Cancún; the immediate effects of NAFTA on the subsistence farmer in Mexico and the rising rate of depression and suicide in Yucatán
  • III. Chicleros: A Season in the Jungle: An account of Diego Jiménez Chi and Cornelio Castro Salazar, chicleros, who lived in the jungle along with their wives and children during the rainy season to bleed the chicozapote tree for the resin used to make chewing gum, and what happened when gum manufacturers supplanted the resin with petroleum products
  • IV. Doña Veva and Alicia: Two Generations of Women: An account of Genoveva Martín Kumul and her daughter Alicia and how Alicia grew from a girl in a jungle chiclero camp to becoming a bilingual teacher, as well as her marriage and children, and the effects of the Evangelical movement in Maya towns
  • V. Xocen: The Saintly Cross of the Center of the Earth: An account of the miraculous Saintly Cross of the Center of the Earth, the Caste War of Yucatán, and the Santa Cruz Maya; we attend religious celebrations in Xocen, talk with a Maya priest, and visit our friend Celso Dzib Ay and his wife, María Equilia May Tun
  • VI. The Santa Cruz Maya: An account of how Pablo Canche Balam and Marcelino Poot Ek introduced us to the sacred villages, talking crosses, fiestas, and celebrations of the Santa Cruz Maya; we witness the onslaught of development and tourism in their traditional lands and find a Talking Cross
  • VII. Cowboys: Corn to Cattle to Corn: An account of Eleuterio Noh Ceh, a corn farmer who became a cowboy and then returned to corn farming, whose children abandoned farming to find work in maquiladoras, making Maidenform bras and Jordache jeans, until the manufacturers found cheaper labor elsewhere
  • VIII. Henequen: The Dangers of a Monoculture: An account of Jesús López Martínez, a henequen worker, and the henequen industry, which failed to remain competitive in a world economy, and the consequences of a monocrop
  • Epilogue
  • Glossary
  • Suggested Reading
  • Index

Macduff Everton is a contributing editor at National Geographic Traveler and Islands magazines. His many editorial clients include Condé Nast Traveler, Gourmet, Life, LA Times Magazine, New York Times Magazine, Outside, Smithsonian, and Town & Country. His work is in the collections of many public and private institutions, including the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris; British Museum, London; International Center of Photography and Museum of Modern Art, New York; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Musée de L'Elysée, Lausanne, Switzerland; and Museo de Arte Moderno, Mexico City.

"After decades on the Yucatán Peninsula, Everton brings us not the mysterious Maya of National Geographic, but, rather, a unique, honest, and moving portrait of ordinary Maya people struggling with the choices and stark changes modern times have forced upon their lives. This is a stunningly beautiful and informative work every bit the equal of Walker Evans and James Agee’s much heralded classic of the American South, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. When it comes to the Maya, there’s no other book like this, nor will there likely ever be another."

Paul Sullivan, author of Unfinished Conversations and Xuxub Must Die

"In addition to its wonderful photography, what makes The Modern Maya stand out is the time Macduff Everton has spent, and spent so well, among the people of time. Over more than forty years, he has befriended the Maya and they him, resulting in a deep, sensitive, and collaborative study of both individual lives and the life of one of the world’s oldest, greatest, and most resilient civilizations. This book is essential for all who are curious about the Maya—and for anyone who wishes to understand the upheavals faced by traditional peoples everywhere in our unsteady world."

Ronald Wright, author of Time Among the Maya

"I have been working with my faculty to find sources of literature regarding the Maya for our intercultural curricula. The ancient Maya and the Caste War period (1847–1911) are well documented and frequently updated, but books on the adaptation of the Mayas to modern life over a significant period are rare. The Modern Maya is perhaps the only one, and it helps us to understand the processes of adaptation and a parallel process: the development and future of interculturality with a Maya context. I highly recommend this book for scholars and anyone interested in the Maya as well as the interaction between cultures."

Francisco Rosado May, Rector, Universidad Intercultural Maya de Quintana Roo

"Engagingly written and outstandingly illustrated . . . Everton displays his outstanding eye for the social setting, his infallible ability to capture the architecture—ancient and modern—and his uncanny ability to build the contrast that only a lifetime can reveal . . . At once a beautiful photographic tome as well as a vivid account of the Maya and critique of globalization and a culture in transition, Everton’s sharp observational skills draw you into a story that is framed by his extraordinary visual images."