Dr Genner Llanes Ortiz



In the past I have collaborated with the Non-Governmental Organisation Tactical Technology Collective

I have contributed to the work of The Leverhume Trust, with a project dictamination.

I have been asked to review an academic article for publication by the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

Personal profile

As a Maya anthropologist I am interested in exploring different expressions of Indigenous identity in the contexts of the Yucatan Peninsula, in Mexico, and Southern Belize, where a number of Maya activists are increasingly using performative and ritualistic elements of their cultural heritage in public and creative ways. During the last summer, I visited and started establishing collaborative research relations with these activists, especially those behind the celebrations of the annual Maya Day in Belize and the “Ferias de Intercambio de Semillas Nativas” in Mexico.

Performances within these celebrations of Maya heritage are employing and deploying long-seated traditions in more dynamic and reflexive ways. Some of these performances use bodily and spiritual languages, previously reserved for the intimacy of the domestic sphere, to re-present themselves to wider and highly diverse audiences – seeking with this strategy to assert their place in the, sometimes newly imagined, multicultural State.

Of particular interest for me is the central role that a living, cultural “material” like maize corn plays in promoting renewed ideas of humanity and political agency that are based on local notions of personhood and a long history of cultural resistance. What is and how best to preserve Maya heritage in Mexico and Central America are becoming highly important questions these days, particularly because of the approaching end of the Classic Maya Calendar in 2012 – an event that is sparking a massive and global interest on the ancient and the contemporary Maya cultures.


Personal and Professional Background

Since an early age I was aware of my Maya heritage and became a scholar interested in the cultural and political process involved in the construction of alternative forms of organisation, participation and expression of Maya-speaking peasants and communities in the Yucatán.

I obtained my first degree at the Autonomous University of Yucatán with a thesis concerned with the issue of sustainable development in a particular region of the Yucatán peninsula: Los Chenes in Campeche. This work synthezises the social and academic construction of this region under particular development perspectives, those of local groups and an external NGO. It also summarizes my professional experience as a development anthropologist working with different regional NGOs.

Between 2000 and 2002 I worked as a research assistant for the Regional Centre of the National Institute for Anthropology and History (INAH) in Mexico. Here I carried out a study on the processes of ethnogenesis taking place among Indigenous organizations in the Yucatán.

I was a Ford Foundation fellow (2002-2003) and, in this capacity, participated in several events involving social justice and international solidarity topics. My doctoral studies were financed with a scholarhip provided by the Mexican government's National Council for Science and Technology.

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