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In the Name of el Pueblo: Poetry, Prophecy, and History in Yucatán

February 24, 2009 - 4:00 pm

Paul Eiss, Carnegie Mellon

The Spanish term “pueblo” carries multiple meanings, as a term used to refer either to place, community, or political entity (i.e. “the people”). In practice, however, usages of “el pueblo” often simultaneously play upon several, or all, of these meanings. “El pueblo” subsumes diverse communal and collective relationships, and provides a shared frame for variant claims over, and expressions of, material possessions, religiosity, political voice and history. In this presentation, I will focus on one of my interviewees and interlocutors: a Yucatecan poet, teacher, political activist and historian named Anacleto Cetina Aguilar. Cetina Aguilar’s life and works provide a context for a discussion of the historical genealogy of “el pueblo” in Yucatán, for an examination of the allegories of possession that structure it as a historical subject, and for an exploration of continuities and shifts in the rhetoric of “el pueblo” in neoliberalism’s wake.

About the Speaker:
Paul K. Eiss is a graduate of the Doctoral Program in Anthropology and History at the University of Michigan, whose work is based upon ethnographic and archival research in Mexico. In recent and forthcoming publications, Eiss explores such topics as: the politics of labor, land tenure and ethnicity; popular religion; indigenous education; value; performance; and archives and historical memory. Recently, Paul Eiss was awarded an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation “New Directions” fellowship for a project on mestizaje and popular theatre in Yucatán. He has also been awarded a National Academy of Education-Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship for his work on indigenous education, as well as the Society for Cultural Anthropology’s “Cultural Horizons” prize, for his article, “Hunting for the Virgin,” and a Fulbright-I.I.E. grant for dissertation research in Mexico. Eiss serves as Associate/Book Review editor of the Hispanic American Historical Review.