Reduccion in the Making of Colonial Yucatec Maya
Hanks, William - University of California, Berkeley

2011-09-22 16:10:00
Ann Arbor, MI - University of Michigan - Tisch Hall Room 1014
Duration: 01:48:00

This talk begins with a brief outline of reducción as a total project, played out in three domains: the re-organization of space, the regulation of conduct, and the reformation of language. Maya was the language of missionization, town level government, and the medium of everyday interaction among Maya people. The process of “reducing” it involved analysis, translation from Spanish into Maya, and the creation of a new register of Maya, now Christianized. Professor Hanks outlines some of the principles guiding the formation of this register and suggest that they overlap with those at play in the spatial and behavioral dimensions of reduccíon. Indeed the three dimensions were concurrently implemented and mutually reinforcing. To illustrate the interplay of space, language, and the colonial subject, we look briefly at the rendering and practices of Christian prayer in Maya. Usually overlooked, since it is obviously not indigenous, Christian doctrinal language was actually pivotal in the transformation of Maya, and its legacy remains vital in the modern language. This is partly due to the way it spread through the colonial field, from mission to local government and beyond, and partly to its own semiotic properties, which rendered it fragmentable, memorable, and radically portable. Over the colonial period, Maya reducido spread into every genre of written Maya. Its appropriation by Maya authors marks the emergence of a new way of imagining language, space, and the subjects who inhabit it.

Introduction by Ron Suny, Director of the Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies

Dr. Hanks is Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley

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