Papers Panel: From North Carolina to Yucatan: Maya from the Margins
Sponsored by Maggs Bros. Ltd.
In 2016, the Southern Historical Collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill partnered with InHerit, a cultural heritage research and action organization rooted in the Research Labs of Archaeology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, to launch an international collaborative project titled Maya from the Margins to connect youth from indigenous families in North Carolina and Yucatán, Mexico in exploring their identity and heritage over time, focusing on topics such as language, history, and migration. This was achieved by exposing high school students in NC and first year college students in Yucatán to researchers studying these topics through a series of workshops, and to primary source materials spanning the 15th through 20th centuries housed in special collections in their respective states. The project was funded by a grant from Museums Connect, a program underwritten by the US Department of State and administered by the American Alliance of Museums. Students visited Wilson Library and the State Archives of Yucatán, crisscrossed North Carolina and Yucatán, and collaboratively curated a travelling exhibition, “Revitalizing Maya History and Heritage: My View from the Archives,” which was displayed at sites throughout the exchange. Driven by the interests, vision, and perspective of young people of Mayan descent, the project involved a reframing of the cultural legacy of Mayan Studies collections in Chapel Hill and in the Yucatán. Though these collections often reflect a Western anthropological or ethnographic focus, the Maya from the Margins project sought to resituate collections within the context of exploration of individual and cultural identity. Maya from the Margins offers a case study in democratizing knowledge production where students, not specialist researchers, are invited to interpret, narrate, and teach diverse antiquarian and archival collections.
In this panel session, participants in the Maya from the Margins project reflect on the challenges and opportunities of working across institutional, international, cultural, and temporal boundaries.