Colloquium: Laura Osorio, “Intangible and Archaeological Heritage; the Pixan of Santa Elena, Yucatan”

“Intangible and Archaeological Heritage; the Pixan of Santa Elena, Yucatan”

The Yucatan peninsula is one of many regions in the world that contains a high density of archaeological sites. The people of Santa Elena, a town in Yucatan, do not benefit greatly from the tourist revenue or international research involved in the development of local archaeological sites. This paper will present and discuss some of the oral narratives of Maya speaking residents of Santa Elena that touch on archaeological sites as material remains of past societies and the perceived relationship between these sites and the cultural landscape. The land surrounding Santa Elena is often described as having suprasensible or aesthetic qualities and archaeological sites are thought to be inhabited by non-human but active entities (including the pixan). As part of these narratives, archaeological sites play a significant role in the intangible cultural heritage of the area. These narratives also form part of the religious group-making associated with the recent popularity of new Christian denominations. This paper will look at how heritage is involved in local community discourse and identity politics.

About the speaker:

Laura Osorio holds a BA in Archaeology, Classics and Classical Art from University College London and a Masters and PhD in Mesoamerican Heritage and Archaeology from Leiden University. Following the completion of her doctorate she has worked in museum education at the Louvre, has been a curator at The British Museum and is currently the Mellon Postdoctoral Curatorial Fellow for Latin America at MOA. She has been conducting ethnographic fieldwork in Yucatan since 2009.

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