Roger Thayer Stone Center For Latin American Studies

Tulane University

Educators, Scholars, and Enthusiasts Learn about Maya Women

March 15th, 2016

The 13th Annual Tulane Maya Symposium, Ixiktaak: Ancient Maya Women, organized by the Middle American Research Institute with support from the Stone Center for Latin American Studies, the Consulate of Mexico in New Orleans, Far Horizon, and Ruta Maya was a resounding success, with the largest attendance of any Tulane Maya Symposium to date! The weekend, March 3-6 consisted of lectures, workshops, and gallery visits for the public and scholars alike.

The opening of an exhibit of traditional textiles, “El Huipil: Una Prenda Secular de México Indígena (The Huipil: Everyday Clothing of Indigenous Mexico)” at the Consulate of Mexico in New Orleans kicked off the weekend on Thursday. In a well-attended lecture, Robert Freund, the collector of these textiles, discussed how he collected them and the importance of preserving traditional weaving techniques and patterns.

Friday and Sunday were full days of workshops. On Friday, concurrent workshops on Maya hieroglyphs and teaching about the Maya in the K-12 classroom attracted over 60 attendees. The educator workshop discussed best practices for teaching about the Maya, with an emphasis on social justice. Sarah Donovan, of DePaul University, emphasized the importance of integrating voices of silenced individuals into the classroom and some techniques for doing so. Attendees also learned about the role of women in food preparation and the importance of food for both the ancient and modern Maya. In all, this was an excellent opportunity for educators to think of ways to diversify teaching about the Maya in the classroom. Check out photos of the Friday workshops here. The Sunday workshops again focused on Maya hieroglyphs, with a forum discussing the decipherment of some of the new panels from La Corona, Guatemala, and an overview of discussions of Maya Queens in glyphic inscriptions. Other workshops discussed the Ch’orti Maya language, the book of Chilam Balam (a Maya creation myth from Yucatan, Mexico), the Popol Vuh (a Maya creation myth from Guatemala), and Maya ceramics.

Saturday brought a full day of talks about all aspects of the life of Ancient Maya women. Topics ranged from burial practices of Maya elite women to discussions of the role of women in food preparation and the specialized knowledge required for food preparation. The archaeological sites and contexts discussed span Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico, covering the majority of the spatial extent of the Maya area. These talks presented both new data and new interpretations of preexisting data-sets, making these talks excellent resources for established scholars and enthusiasts alike.

Planning is already in the works for the 2017 Symposium, which will discuss ancient Maya warfare.

Central America + People
Sunshine A. Van Bael
Assistant Professor - Ecology and Evolutionary Biology