Antigua, Guatemala - The University of Texas at Austin

January 8, 2018 | Author: Anonymous | Category: Social Science, Anthropology
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GUATEMALA Summer Session I Spanish Literature at Casa Herrera Faculty-led summer abroad program

Where is Guatemala?

This is Mexico and Central America, also called “Mesoamerica”

This is Guatemala!

It all starts in Guatemala

Antigua is Guatemala’s past colonial capital – 1541 to 1776

A view of the Agua volcano Suspended between the cones of Agua, Acatenango and Fuego volcanoes, Antigua is one of the most beautiful colonial cities in the world. In its day this was one of the great cities of the Spanish empire, ranking alongside Lima and Mexico City and serving as the administrative center for all of Central America and Mexican Chiapas.

Fuego and Acatenango volcanoes at dusk

Ruins of the convent of Capuchinas

Church of La Merced

Streets of Antigua

Cathedral of Antigua

Casa Herrera in Antigua  Built in 1680, the Casa Herrera is a new research, conference and teaching facility located in Antigua, Guatemala, operated by the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Texas at Austin in collaboration with the Fundación Pantaleón.

 As an extension of the university’s Mesoamerica Center, the Casa Herrera focuses on disciplines that contribute to the study of Mesoamerican opportunities for education and research.  It facilitates learning and dialogue in many fields of study, among scholars and students from many institutions and nations in Central America and beyond.

This is Casa Herrera

Casa Herrera Mission Statement  Casa Herrera’s mission is to create new opportunities for education and research, facilitating learning and dialogue in many fields of study among scholars and students from institutions and nations in Central America and beyond. In addition to its primary role as a place of scholarly research and teaching, the Casa aims to be an important venue for community engagement with academia and the arts through regular public programming such as lectures, concerts and performances.

Casa Herrera at the center of Mesoamerican culture  While Mesoamerican art, archaeology and anthropology represent the Casa’s primary research focus, it also explores a wider array of interdisciplinary activities and uses that resonate with UT’s mission.

Study at Casa Herrera and be here 

Our summer program  Using Maya literature, texts about the Maya, and selected works from the Guerrilla Period (1960-1990), this program explores Central America in a sociohistorical context. Students analyze the imagery and symbolism of various narrative forms to gain insight into common things of group identity such as nation, community and cultural values.  Emphasis will fall on contemporary Maya literature.

Mayas? They have literature?  There are an estimated 7 million Maya living in this area at the start of the 21st century. Ethnic Maya of Guatemala, have managed to maintain substantial remnants of their ancient cultural heritage.  The largest populations of contemporary Maya inhabit Guatemala, approximately 6.5 million.  In Guatemala, the largest and most traditional Maya populations are in the western highlands. In Guatemala, the Spanish colonial pattern of keeping the native population legally separate and subservient continued well into the 20th century. This resulted in many traditional customs being retained until now.

Maya area in Mesoamerica

Another look

Maya Heritage  The Maya people are known for their brightly colored textiles, which are woven into capes, shirts, blouses, huipiles and dresses. Each village has its own distinctive pattern, making it possible to distinguish a person's home town on sight. Women's clothing consists of a shirt and a long skirt. Maya religion still prevails throughout the rural regions.  The unique religion is based on the cult of maize (corn), associated to the flesh from which the first human beings were created. It is a cosmological religion that links every day of the year to the movement of the stars and planets.

Popol Wuj  The Popol Wuj is the most significant work of Guatemalan literature in the K’iche’ language, and the most important of PreColumbian American literature.

 It was originally written around the 1550s in K’iche’ Maya, but employing a Latin alphabet.  It was translated into Spanish by the Dominican priest Francisco Ximénez in the beginning of the 18th century. Due to its combination of historical, mythical, and religious elements, it has often been called the Maya Bible. It is a vital document for understanding the culture of pre-Columbian America.

What is it about?  The text offers an account of the origin of the world to the twins’ (Junajpu and Xbalanque, also sun and moon) victory over the lords of the underworld. The Popol Wuj then continues with the creation from maize of the first humans, signaling the emergence of the K’iché people, followed by the history of their rulers up to the arrival of the Spaniards. The Popol Wuj empowered those rulers to make claims even under Spanish rule.

Rabinal Achí  The Rabinal Achí is a dramatic work (theater) consisting of dance and text that is preserved as it was originally represented.  It is thought to date from the 15th century and narrates the mythical and dynastic origins of the Kek'chi' people, and their relationships with neighboring K’iche’s.

 The Rabinal Achí was declared a masterpiece of oral tradition of humanity by UNESCO in 2005.

And then, there is contemporary Maya literature  Guatemala underwent a violent civil war between 1960 and 1996. Its cause was both racism against Mayas, and the dispossession of their land by the ruling Mestizo elite.  The iconic peak of the civil war was incarnated by Rigoberta Menchú, who became a human rights crusader and was given the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992.  One of the positive outcomes of peace has been the emergence of an intellectual Maya elite that includes all professions (anthropologists, sociologists, lawyers, doctors. Etc.) as well as writers, artists, musicians and other contemporary creative manifestations.

Rigoberta Menchú

 When the Mountains Tremble  watch?v=mM5uXwAVIGE &feature=related

Poerts and novelists  In the summer course, we will read Menchú’s testimonio, but we will mainly read contemporary poets and novelists.  They write about their culture, their ancestry, and what happened during the civil war.

 Most of them are alive. They will be invited to visit our class and speak to our students.

Luis de Lión

Víctor Montejo

Gaspar Pedro González

Francisco Morales Santos

Humberto Ak’abal

Calixta Gabriel Xiquín

There will also be field trips  Guatemala is considered one of the most beautiful countries on Earth.

 It is a cosmic center, the heartland of the Mayas.  During the summer we will visit the Maya town of Chichicastenango, lake Atitlán, and the classical Maya ruins of Tikal, which was one of the largest cities on Earth between the 2nd and 6th centuries A.D.

View of Chichicastenango Chichicastenango is a traditional town of cobbled streets. Twice a week the town's highland calm is shattered by the Sunday and Thursday markets, which attract a myriad of commercial traders, as well as Maya weavers from the central highlands.

Maya principal from Chichicastenango Chichicastenango was founded by the Spanish to house K'iche' refugees from nearby Utatlán, which they conquered and destroyed in 1524. The town's name is a Nahuatl word meaning "the place of the nettles".


 The old ruins of Q’umarkaj are only 5 miles from Chichicastenango. Though the city was destroyed, efforts have been made recently to create a museum on the site. We sill visit the museum. On the right you see a scale model of how the city was in 1524.

Maya women in Chichicastenango

Church steps of Chichicastenango The market is by no means all that sets Chichicastenango apart.

For the local population it's an important center of culture and religion. It is the colonial capital of the K’iche’s, the largest Maya ethnic group in Guatemala.

Chichicastenango market Today the town has an important collection of Maya artifacts, parallel indigenous and Mestizo governments, and two churches that make no effort to disguise their acceptance of Maya religious worship. Locals adhere to the ways of traditional weaving, the women wearing superb huipiles with flower motifs.

A sea of color in the market

The emergence of the earth from the water

Panajachel  According to Maya legend, Earth emerged from the water at lake Atitlán, a deep lake shaped by deep escarpments. The lake is of volcanic origin, filling a large caldera formed by an eruption 84,000 years ago.  The lake is considered one of the most beautiful in the world. It is surrounded by 12 Maya villages. The largest town on the shore is Panajachel.  The most beautiful is the Tz'utujil town of Santiago Atitlán on the opposite side. Boats go back and forth between Panajachel and Santiago Atitlán.

Santiago Atitlán

Tikal  Tikal is one of the largest archaeological sites and urban centers of the preColumbian Maya civilization.  It is located in the archaeological region of the Petén Basin in what is now northern Guatemala, in the department of El Petén.  The site is part of Guatemala's Tikal National Park.

 In 1979 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

A metropolis in the middle of the jungle  Tikal became one of the most powerful kingdoms of the ancient Maya. Though monumental architecture at the site dates back as far as the 4th century BC, Tikal reached its apogee during the Classic Period, ca. 200 to 900 AD.  During this time, the city dominated much of the Maya region politically, economically, and militarily. It interacted with

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