Maya In Exile

Maya In Exile: Guatemalans in Florida

Allan F. Burns
INTRODUCTION BY Jerónimo Camposeco
Copyright Date: 1993
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 256
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt14btbnb
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  • Book Info
    Maya In Exile
    Book Description:

    The Maya are the single largest group of indigenous people living in North and Central America. Beginning in the early 1980s, hundreds of thousands of Maya fled the terror of Guatemalan civil strife to safety in Mexico and the U.S. This ethnography of Mayan immigrants who settled in Indiatown, a small agricultural community in south central Florida, presents the experiences of these traditional people, their adaptations to life in the U.S., and the ways they preserve their ancestral culture. For more than a decade, Allan F. Burns has been researching and doing advocacy work for these immigrant Maya, who speak Kanjobal, Quiche, Mamanâ, and several other of the more than thirty distinct languages in southern Mexico and Guatemala. In this fist book on the Guatemalan Maya in the U.S, he uses their many voices to communicate the experience of the Maya in Florida and describes the advantages and results of applied anthropology in refugee studies and cultural adaptation.

    Burns describes the political and social background of the Guatemalan immigrants to the U.S. and includes personal accounts of individual strategies for leaving Guatemala and traveling to Florida. Examining how they interact with the community and recreate a Maya society in the U.S., he considers how low-wage labor influences the social structure of Maya immigrant society and discusses the effects of U.S. immigration policy on these refugees.

    eISBN: 978-1-4399-0381-0
    Subjects: Sociology, Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. xvii-xlviii)
    Jerónimo Camposeco

    PARA HABLAR SOBRE los exilados Mayas en Estados Unidos, necesito revelar algo de mi propia biograffía donde se verá que mi existencia está estrechamente relacionada con los kanjobales, especialmente con los de San Miguel Acatán, quienes fueron los primeros inmigrantes al comienzo de la década de los ochenta. También quiero mencionar en este relato que sus habitantes y los de San Rafael La Independencia, en el departamento de Huehuetenango, Guatemala, son hablantes de kanjobal, aunque últimamente los lingüistas decidieron que este idioma se llame Akateko. Ellos tienen buenas razones cientificas y no quiero contradecirles, pero par razones prácticas ese primer...

  6. ONE MAYA REFUGEES AND APPLIED ANTHROPOLOGY
    (pp. 1-22)

    The Maya are the single largest group of indigenous people living in their traditional lands in North and Central America. They are not a lost or vanished people; in fact, the Maya people of Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, and the United States number over four million. The Maya have often graced the pages ofNational Geographic,as in an October 1989 article entitled “La Ruta Maya (Garrett 1989).” The article advances an ambitious plan to save the rain forests of Mexico and Central America by transforming the Maya homelands into a vast route for the new “eco-tourism.” The imaginative photograph...

  7. TWO ESCAPE AND ARRIVAL
    (pp. 23-40)

    The number of Maya people who have come to the United States as refugees is difficult to assess. Since 1981 the number of Guatemalan refugees inside and outside Guatemala has been estimated as being as high as 600,000, with up to 200,000 in the United States (Zolberg, Suhrke, and Aguayo 1989: 212). Of these, only a very few have been given political asylum. Between 1983 and 1986, when the first wave of close to 100,000 Guatemalans fled to the United States, only 14 petitions for political asylum were granted while 1,461 were denied (United States President’s Advisory Committee for Refugees...

  8. THREE LIFE CRISIS AND RITUAL
    (pp. 41-66)

    Maya people smile when they translate the name of Indiantown into Spanish.El Pueblo de los Indios,or “The Town of the Indians,” has indeed become a population center as well as a symbolic center of Kanjobal Maya culture in exile. Local residents, overwhelmed and sometimes frustrated by the immigration of so many people from Guatemala, say that the name should be changed to “Guatemala town.” In Indiantown, the Maya are visible: there they make up the majority of the migrant workers in the area along with a large number of Mexicans and Mexicans Americans, African Americans, and Haitians.

    Indiantown...

  9. FOUR THE MAYA IN COMMUNITY AND ETHNIC CONTEXT
    (pp. 67-102)

    Once in the United States, the Maya encounter a society centered on jobs and work. A person’s identity is defined by work; social relationships are drawn along work and class lines; work itself or the lack of it is laden with value. Work has a strong position in the Maya system of norms as well. As Elmendorf (1976) points out, for the Yucatec Maya, work is highly valued in indigenous Maya communities. The Maya term for “friend,” for example, literally mean “someone who works alongside you.” It is a compliment to both Maya women and men to say that they...

  10. FIVE WORK AND CHANGES IN SOCIAL STRUCTURE
    (pp. 103-124)

    As poverty-stricken migrant workers, Maya and other immigrants to Indiantown find identity through work. Work, and the identity that it provides people in the United States, varies according to the seasons of agricultural produce, the success of the South Florida construction industry, and the availability of papers giving them authorization to work legally. Work in Indiantown includes traditional field work picking oranges and vegetables in South Florida’s large agricultural industry, construction in the affluent areas of the east coast, golf course and landscape construction, and work in the area’s service industries. In addition, informal sector employment, including babysitting and cooking...

  11. SIX CONFLICT AND THE EVOLUTION OF A NEW MAYA IDENTITY
    (pp. 125-151)

    Interest in ethnic identity in anthropology and the social sciences in general has increased dramatically in the past few years. The rise of ethnic politics and nationalism (Anderson 19831, the international indigenist movements of the 1980s and 1990s (Royce 1982), and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 have all pointed to the importance of ethnic identity for understanding contemporary culture change among people like the Maya. While ethnic relations have always been an integral part of Maya society in Guatemala (see for example Nash 1989, De la Fuente 1967, Hawkins 1984, and Smith 1990), the experience of becoming...

  12. SEVEN VISUAL ANTHROPOLOGY AND THE MAYA
    (pp. 152-173)

    “Can you make a video about Indiantown?” asked Jerónimo Camposeco when we first met. The release of the commercial filmEl Nortein the mid-I980s was well known among the Maya community, as it was based on interviews with people who had first come to California and later to Florida. Television news teams made many visits to the town—so many that after a few years people began refusing to be interviewed on camera. One of the first “media events” that the community witnessed was the helicopter landing of a television news team in Indiantown in the early 1980s. Although...

  13. EIGHT ALWAYS MAYA
    (pp. 174-192)

    The Maya are known as the largest indigenous society in North America, but as the decade of the 1990s emerged, they also became one of the most dispersed. Maya in Indiantown, Florida, are one part of a Maya diaspora that stretches from Central America through Canada.

    The Maya are a people who interest travelers, tourists, historians, and anthropologists. Anthropologists have been fascinated with their prehistory. The rise of the Maya civilization, the nature of their architectural genius, and the complexities of their strategies of adaptation to the jungles and mountains of Mexico and Central America have spawned interest and research...

  14. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 193-202)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 203-209)