Author of the Month: Ronald LoewePublished: December 15, 2010
Maya or Mestizo: Nationalism, Modernity and its Discontents
Ronald Loewe, Professor/Graduate Advisor, Anthropology
Published in September by the University of Toronto, Maya or Mestizo: Nationalism, Modernity and its Discontents (225 pages) is based on more than 20 years of anthropological research conducted in Spanish and Yucatec Maya. Loewe’s ethnography offers a panoramic view of Yucatecan culture, history, economy and politics—all through the intimate lens of Maxcanú, a small community at the intersection of the global economy and the modern nation state. Loewe not only describes the longstanding attempt of the national government to modernize and Mexicanize the Maya, but highlights the globalization of Maxcanú, first through hemp production and more recently through tourism and the fast-growing influence of American-based evangelical Protestantism. Despite these pressures to turn Maya into mestizo, the citizens of the small town of Maxcanú have used subtle forms of resistance—humor, satire and medicine— to maintain aspects of their traditional identity. In short, Loewe offers a contemporary look at a Maya community caught between tradition and modernity. He was trained originally as a Mayan ethnographer and speaks Mayan. Loewe spent two years in the Yucatan Peninsula (1988-90), including three months living with a Maya family where he researched Maya shamans and their effect on community health. He earned his B.A. from Earlham College (Richmond, Ind.) and his Ph.D. in 1995 from the University Chicago. He taught at Mississippi State University for six years prior to joining CSULB in 2006.