Transmission and tourism : the effects of globalization on how and why Maya backstrap weaving is taught

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Waters, Emily Ann

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The initial purpose of this study was to explore how tourism in Guatemala is affecting indigenous weavers, weaving practices, and the transmission of weaving knowledge and experience from the current generation of Guatemalans to the next. Through extended on-site study and interviews with weavers in three towns in Guatemala—San Antonio Aguas Calientes, Antigua, and Santiago Zamora—it was learned that weaving practices in Guatemala are much more culturally and socially complex than what is disclosed on the surface. This study revealed that the transmission of weaving practices between generations is influenced significantly by the growing effects of globalization. Not only is globalization shaping the emerging generation’s participation in weaving in Guatemala, but it was seen in this study that prevalent global ideas and practices are also molding education, clothing styles, entertainment, economics, technology, and social media within the current younger generation of Guatemalans. These growing influences on Guatemalan society contribute to a diminished interest in weaving and perceived need for weavers in this country, and are thus constricting the transmission of local Maya culture from past generations to the next. This research was a combination of the weavers’ stories and my own journey through the cultural complexities found in three Guatemalan towns in order to reveal a rich and purposed view of current cultural practices of weaving in Guatemala.




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