About

PERSONAL INVESTMENT

When I entered the field, I initially wanted to study the interactions between Mayan and European astronomies as a type of intellectual mestizaje.  I envisioned a focus on the Books of Chilam Balam and a search through Spanish archives for Andres de Avendano's lost treatise on Mayan cosmology. 

The complication that I did not foresee was that such an investigation would require a solid comprehension of each tradition before they met.  And while that was relatively straightforward for the European side, it became increasingly evident that it wouldn't be so for the Mayan side.  Specifically, the study of Mayan astronomy per se was still a  relatively young field.  This meant that there were still fundamental differences of interpretation among scholars in the field.  This lack of consensus pushed me to re-think my doctoral research and focus instead on looking for a coherence to Mayan astronomy that might allow for a later exploration of its interaction with other traditions.

Almost 20 years later, I find myself still looking for that core consensus within the field of what is generally known as Mesoamerican archaeoastronomy, but here is primarily focused on the Mayan region. 

From my perspective, this website provides a persistent forum to begin the challenging work of hammering out a consensus.  It does not, of course, seek to homogenize all interpretations--the goal is, though, to establish some kind of epistemological framework that ensures that we are at least speaking with (and not over and/or around) each other.

HISTORICAL CONTEXT

The relatively obscure Calendar Correlation problem recently generated a significant focus on ancient Mayan culture through the alleged "end of the Mayan calendar" in the (Gregorian) year 2012.  That phenomenon brought together various communities into debates over what actually constituted Mayan astronomy and how we know what we think we know.

One intervention into this debate was enabled by the Maya Exploration Center.  Their website hosted a discussion forum allowing anyone to jump into the conversation with questions, comments and concerns regarding interpretations of "2012."  In turn, one provocative point was raised that questioned why some academic voices were legitimate and others not.  Wouldn't it be possible--and even desirable--the reasoning went, that more voices be invited into the conversation, rather than shutting them out?  In particular, the interest from popular culture did draw more and varied participants into the conversation--couldn't we find a way to incorporate these new participants productively?

The challenge, of course, concerns the age-old issue of the institutionalization of knowledge.  But modern Information Technology is radically impacting what we understand to be the "organization, maintenance, and production of knowledge."  Following a Latourian sensibility, this web site is intended to facilitate a new repository of knowledge centered on the study of ancient Mayan astronomy.

The intent is not to create a free-for-all of the sort already on the Internet, but instead to create an IT-facilitated community bridging geographical space and time.
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