Sunday, May 15, 2011

Visual Anthropology: Yucatecan Archaeological Sights

My first critical encounter with the Yucatan was during the summer of 2002. Before that, I visited the peninsula twice during the early 1990s, but those experiences were heavily filtered and constrained by tourism. My family and I spent our entire vacation in Cancun and only ventured out for a few day trips to popular archaeological and tourist sites. There were so many aspects of life that we completely passed by. It was not until the summer of 2002 that I was introduced to the complex and dynamic history of the peninsula--this was also the first time I was exposed to what life was like for the majority of its residents.

In 2002, I was an undergrad at Humboldt State University and had decided to spend my summer working as a field technician for an American archaeological project located in the interior of the state of Quintana Roo. Since the archaeological site was rather remote, a base camp was set up in the nearest pueblo. Although the pueblo was one of the largest in the area with a population of 3,000 it still lacked many of the conveniences of urban life including running water and a sanitation system. Every week we had to drive two hours to the closest city to get supplies. By the end of the summer I had a new understanding and relationship with the Yucatan, which came primarily from experiencing life in a rural Yucatec Maya pueblo. These experiences greatly contrasted from the encounters I had in my youth, which were heavily influenced by the images and narratives promulgated by tourist media, international hotels, and popular discourses.

It has been nine years since I first started working in the Yucatan and every year I continue to delve deeper into the history, politics and culture of the region. And although I chose to change my focus--from archaeology to cultural anthropology--I will never forget that it was archaeology that started me on my research path.

These sets of photos were taken during several different field trips from 2008-2010.

Veronica Miranda
University of Kentucky

Coba, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Ek Balam, Yucatan, Mexico

Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico


Valladolid, Mexico


Meg said...

these are beautiful photos veronica! thank-you for sharing them. i especially likes the coba series.

Michael E. Smith said...

These photographs are absolutely gorgeous! Very nice.