In this paper we explore how Maya identities have been (mis)represented in the context of heritage tourism across the Mundo Maya and underscore the cultural heterogeneity and historical diversity of Maya speaking people. Our focus is the Yucatán peninsula, where we look at terms used to define social categories and ethnic groups through time. We then examine how tourism can affect notions of self-identify and self-ascription, by presenting our first-hand experience as archaeologists dealing with issues of Maya identity and heritage claims in the context of archaeological tourism development at the sites of Chunchucmil and Yaxuna, Yucatán. We propose the use of a 'relational approach' to identify formation processes in contrast to the more common genealogical approach. In addition, we believe that with the help of applied anthropologists archaeologists can be advocates for local communities and mediators among multiple stakeholders in situations where these communities are poised to benefit from tourism.
- Maya identities
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