Although romanticized as the last of the ancient Maya living isolated in the forest, several generations of the Lacandon Maya have had their lives shaped by the international oil economy, tourism, and political unrest.
Watching Lacandon Maya Lives is an examination of dramatic cultural changes in a Maya rainforest farming community over the last forty years, including changes to their families, industries, religion, health and healing practices, and gender roles. The book contains several discussions of anthropological theory in accessible, jargon-free language, including how the use of different theoretical perspectives impacts an ethnographer’s fieldwork experience. While relating his own mishaps, experiences of community strife, and conflicts, Jon McGee encourages students to shed the romantic veil through which ethnographies are usually viewed and think more deeply about how events in our own lives influence how we understand the behavior of people around us.
New to the Second Edition:
Reece Jon McGee is a professor of Anthropology at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas. He is the author of numerous works on the Lacandon including Life, Ritual and Religion Among the Lacandon Maya and is also the coauthor of the texts Anthropological Theory: An Introductory History (Rowman and Littlefield), Sacred Realms: Essays in Religious Practices, Beliefs and Culture (Oxford University Press), and Introduction to Cultural Anthropology: An Interactive Approach (National Social Science Press). McGee is also the managing editor for Theory in Social and Cultural Anthropology: An Encyclopedia (Sage Publishing Company).
Chapter One: The Myth of Lacandon Origins.
Archaeological, Linguistic, and Historical Sources.
Lacandon in the Nineteenth Century
Lacandon in the Twentieth Century
Chapter Two: Reconstructing the Historical Lacandon:
Who Is Lacandon?
What Does Traditional Lacandon Mean?
Lacandon Life from 1790-1903
Men and Women’s Work
Marriage and Household Life
Selling Lacandon Religion
Two Case Studies and Concluding Thoughts
Chapter 3: Watching Life in a Lacandon Community
An Overview of Women, Men, and Work.
Chan K?in Viejo and his Household
Koh III and Koh IV, Summer1985
Child Birth, and Infant Mortality
The Death of Nuk
Chapter 4: 1970-2020, Five Decades of Change
Government, Oil and Immigration, an Overview
Family Relations, Work, and Historic Lacandon Horticulture
Roads, Bows and Arrows, and Tourism
Adapting Agricultural to Tourism: Comparing Two Communities
Men, tourism, and Agriculture in Nahá.
Agriculture and Tourism in Lacanha.
Women, Tourism, and Work
Women in households oriented to tourism
Chapter 5: Finding an Income in the Lacandon Jungle
Providing Food and Lodging for Visitors
Household-Level Entrepreneurial Activities
Archaeology in Mensäbäk
Working for CONANP
Four Families in Mensäbäk
Economic and Cultural Changes
Shifting to a Money-Based Economy and Culture Change
Changing diet and health
Changing household-based reciprocity
Changing household demographics
Growing Up in a Changing World: The Cases of K?in and Chan K?in Quinto
Chapter 6: Decline of Non-Christian Religion
Ritual Places: Classic Period Ruins
Caves and Rock Shelters
Types of Offerings
Ritual and Agriculture
Healing and Ritual
The End of the World
Conclusions: The End of Non-Christian Religion
Chapter 7: Changing Healing Practices
Lacandon Categories of Sickness
Curing Through Prayer
Decline of Healing Rituals
Chapter Eight: Forty Years Among the Lacandon: Some Lessons Learned
What is Lacandon Culture?
What People Say is Different from What They Do
Marriage, Fatherhood, and McGee’s Position in the Community
The Fire: 6/9/99
Watching Lacandon Maya Lives presents a pithy account of the northern Lacandones written from the heart of a scholar who demystifies truths of a hitherto enigmatic people, candidly and unapologetically inserting himself into the narrative. As such, the book should appeal to the general reader and anyone else who is captivated by the Mayans past and present.
Watching Lacandón Lives highlights the lucid observations that Jon McGee gleaned from decades of research among Lacandón Maya families in Mexico’s tropical rainforest. Through his perceptive description of continuing change in Lacandón communities—and within himself—he has produced a book filled with friendship, insight, and authenticity.
After the exceptional first edition of Watching Lacandon Maya Lives, anthropologist Jon McGee returns with an even more enduring and insightful text reflecting on his forty years of ethnographic work in a Lacandan community. In this engaging work, readers are taken on a journey through the lives of three generations of one large extended family in the community of Nahá and through the author’s personal, informal-yet-academically driven writing style, witness the transformative social change in one indigenous culture. From an economy based upon swidden horticulture to one based upon a mixed economy of tourism and government aid, this text offers an insightful view on how economic changes can have sweeping ramifications felt over time, and on multiple levels of cultural practice. McGee draws upon his ethnographic field experience and invites readers in to discover, as he did, how it is that who we are, what we experience, informs how we understand and interact those with whom we share the world.
McGee's second edition to Watching Lacandon Maya Lives provides an honest and valuable insight into Lacandon lifeways from the past to the present. Through the description of his personal experience among three generations of one extended family in a Lacandon village, the author shows how the natives adapted to cultural and environmental changes, underlining the importance of extensive anthropological field work and personal commitment.
In this new edition, McGee invites readers to consider the nature of social change as he reflects on more than 40 years of fieldwork among Lacandon Maya families. Ethnographically driven, theoretically informed, and accessibly written, the text offers a welcome update to an anthropological classic.
Watching Lacandon Maya Lives, 2e is the best detailed treatise of Northern Lacandon Maya domestic life and social interaction in rural Chiapas, Mexico to date. McGee’s long-term and thoughtful insights on field research, cultural interpretations, gender issues, social change, and people’s individual perspectives and actions make Watching Lacandon Maya Lives anthropologically significant. I very much recommend this book to anyone wanting to learn more about Lacandon Maya society and the discipline of anthropology.
9/19/2023, Faculti: Although romanticized as the last of the ancient Maya living isolated in the forest, several generations of the Lacandon Maya have had their lives shaped by the international oil economy, tourism, and political unrest. R Jon McGee discusses the cultural changes in the Maya rainforest farming community over the last forty years, including changes to their families, industries, religion, health, and healing practices, and gender roles.