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Living with the Ancestors

Living with the Ancestors
Kinship and Kingship in Ancient Maya Society

2nd Edition

  • Date Published: March 2014
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521719353


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About the Authors
  • This new edition of Living with the Ancestors contains an entirely new introduction that synthesizes scholarship on ancestralizing practices that has emerged since the 1995 publication of the first edition, which was heralded in Ethnohistory as 'a gem' by Robert M. Carmack. Ancestor veneration in the Maya region traditionally was associated with divine kingship and royal genealogies. In this study, the author challenges this assumption and presents a strong case for agrarian and Preclassic antecedents to the practice of remembering and celebrating forebears and curating their remains close to the dwelling. Integrating archaeological, epigraphic, ethnohistoric and ethnographic information, the author places ancestors within the larger social landscape of fields, orchards and gardens. The many registers of significance on which ancestralizing practices resonate are examined in detail - including spirituality, land tenure patterns, kin relations, and charters of rulership, to name just a few. Although case material is drawn from the Maya region, anyone interested in ancestor veneration will find intriguing material in this study.

    • Uniquely combines a social history with a dynastic history approach and synthesizes Maya archaeology around the topic of ancestor veneration
    • Highly readable and recommended for both beginning and advanced college students
    • Revised edition offers new introduction and bibliography that takes into account most recent research
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    Product details

    • Edition: 2nd Edition
    • Date Published: March 2014
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521719353
    • length: 260 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.39kg
    • contains: 37 b/w illus. 1 table
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Preface to the new edition
    1. Point of departure
    2. Ancestor veneration and lineage organization in the Maya region
    3. Creating a genealogy of place
    4. Lineage as a crucible of inequality
    5. Kin groups and divine kingship in lowland Maya society
    6. Ancestors and archaeology of place
    7. Postscript: the future of the ancestors and the clash between science and human rights.

  • Author

    Patricia A. McAnany, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
    Patricia A. McAnany is Kenan Eminent Professor of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. A Maya archaeologist who has conducted field research and cultural heritage programs through the Maya region, she is the founder of the Maya Area Cultural Heritage Initiative and co-founder of InHerit: Indigenous Heritage Passed to Present ( She is the author or co-editor of several books, most recently Textile Economies: Power and Value from the Local to the Transnational (2011), co-edited with Walter E. Little; Ancestral Maya Economies in Archaeological Perspective (Cambridge University Press, 2010); Questioning Collapse: Human Resilience, Ecological Vulnerability, and the Aftermath of Empire (2009), co-edited with Norman Yoffee; and Dimensions of Ritual Economy (2008), co-edited with E. Christian Wells. She has published in numerous professional journals and is the recipient of several research awards from the National Science Foundation and of fellowships from the Institute for the Arts and Humanities (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Radcliffe Center for Advanced Study at Harvard University.

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