Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Anthropology

Content Description

1 online resource (xv, 282 pages) : color illustrations, map.

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Walter E. Little

Committee Members

James Collins, John Justeson


Cultural Anthropology, Ethnography, Folklore, Gender, Linguistic Anthropology, Maya Culture, Maya women, Sex role

Subject Categories

Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Latin American Studies | Social and Cultural Anthropology


As a collaborative effort between myself and the Maya women with whom I worked, who live in Xocén, this dissertation seeks to illuminate the sacred world of Maya women, as well as dismantle the insidious narrative that younger generations of Mayas are losing their culture. Instrumental to this process is the use of decolonial methods (Lawless 1993) and descriptive theoretical premises (Geertz 1973; Turner 1967, 1969) that allowed me to analyze Maya women’s discursive speech, referred to as both chismes and heridos in Spanish, which can be translated as gossip, as well as the speech genre of u t’àan nukuč máak, advice of the elders, in the context of women’s everyday routines, where tusbèel, responsibilities, serves as the dominant symbol. From these efforts, I not only reveal the retention of symbolic knowledge amongst current generations of Mayas, but I also demonstrate how Maya women’s sacred world encompass their everyday lives.