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Thursday, May 29 • 9:00am - 9:20am
(Opening Session) Social Participation as a Way for Sustainable Projects in Conservation of Worshiping Objects: The Case of Current Mayan Communities in Yucatán, Mexico

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The paper tackles the experiences of the participative restoration-conservation projects which have been launched to deal with symbolic religious objects in rural populations of Yucatán, Mexico, mostly Mayan-speaking communities. It is posited that, in sociocultural contexts like these, it is impossible to do preventive conservation without handling the situation from a people-oriented perspective. Thus, besides material treatment, symbolic value and social function have to be taken into account, since this is the way to get the society to take charge of future conservation. Since this is the way to get the society to take charge of future conservation, and attain true short and long term sustainability.

Under this work perspective the questions are: How to preserve objects that are used daily and that are valued as symbols and not as matter? How to preserve the matter without prohibitive positions about the use and social function of the objects? How to mediate in the different visions on cultural heritage? How to generate changes that ensure the restored objects would not return to its original condition once the restorers leave the project? How to promote inherited self-management processes in the communities orientated to the future conservation of the objects? How to help without invading or to alter a socio-cultural reality to which we do not belong?

These questions were used in the project as guide to the implemented actions. For example, talks of heritage matter and conservation; talks about the sculptures as a material objects, workshops of training in preventive conservation and risks reduction; community bilingual theatre directed to the understanding of heritage and conservation; assistance and accompaniment in festivities, processions and heritage management processes; generation of bilingual leaflets on conservation and risk reduction; inclusion of children and students in the project trying to develop a new vision on conservation to the future; etc.

Through the review of these social participation actions, and its results, the paper proposes to promote and understand conservation as a socio-cultural intervention that should turn into a space for mediation. Such mediation should look for sustainable and lasting projects that go further than temporary initiatives of local heritage conservation. This, to achieve that the heritage conservation is a shared work and that all the involved actors understand the responsibility that it implies.


Giovana Jaspersen

LACS Recipient, Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH) / National Institute of Anthropology and History

Thursday May 29, 2014 9:00am - 9:20am PDT
Grand Ballroom A-C