Maya revival movements

Between transnationality and authenticity

Authored by: Manéli Farahmand

Routledge International Handbook of Religion in Global Society

Print publication date:  November  2020
Online publication date:  November  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138182509
eBook ISBN: 9781315646435
Adobe ISBN:


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The purpose of this chapter is to highlight how ‘Mayan identity’ has transformed since first contact with globalized New Age spiritualities. Drawing on empirical data, the chapter problematizes the relationship between transnationalism and New Age and Mayan ethnicity, from the perspective of Transnational Studies and ‘neo-Mayanity.’ This work aims to show the recent emergence of so-called ‘neo-ethnic’ traditions in relation to specific transnational processes. I will provide a survey of transnational ‘neo’ phenomena in relation to issues such as power, authenticity and legitimacy. The chapter draws on the results of a multi-site research across different neo-Mayan circles, extending beyond local borders. Based on fieldwork and in-depth narrative interviews with neo-Mayas in Germany, Switzerland, Mexico and Guatemala, the study show a decontextualization and universalization of ‘Mayan identity.’ A variety of empirical examples reveal that since the ‘2012 Phenomenon,’ the transnationalization of neo-Mayan leaders and imageries has led to symbolic and ritual innovations. The impact of these processes on the classical boundaries of ethnicity is analyzed. Finally, the chapter argues that neo-Indigenous performativity and new ways of belonging are part of the contemporary agenda, placing the quest for authenticity at the heart of identity processes.

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