Walter E. Little
Interests: Cultural and Ethnic Identity, Cultural Performance, Gender Relations, Marketplace and Household Economics, Transcultural Studies - Tourism, Urban Anthropology.
Director, Ethnographic Field School in Guatemala
Co-Director, Maya Language School in Guatemala
Co-Founder, Guatemalan Emergency Relief Fund
Guatemala (Antigua) – Oxlajuj Aj: Kaqchikel Maya Intensive Language & Culture
The Stone Center for Latin American Studies offers an intensive six-week course in the vital Kaqchikel language and its culture, providing a unique opportunity to observe and study the complex process as a traditionally marginalized language is standardized for use in education and publication. Judith M. Maxwell, full professor of anthropology and director of the Interdisciplinary Program in Linguistics at Tulane, is director of the program and serves as a resource and guide for students. Walter E. Little, associate professor of anthropology at SUNY at Albany, is co-director of the program and a cultural anthropologist who focuses on the interrelationships between livelihood and identity among Kaqchikel Mayas. With the assistance of Kaqchikel teachers, they plan cultural activities, guide discussions about Maya life, and invite noted Maya scholars, activists, educators, health professionals, and spiritual guides to speak to students. The program is open to graduate students and advanced undergraduates with appropriate academic backgrounds and a working knowledge of Spanish. Students have the option of taking a three-credit version of the program by choosing either Beginning, Intermediate, or Advanced Kaqchikel Language or the six-credit version including one of the referenced language courses plus a Kaqchikel Mayan Culture course for the additional three credits. This year – in celebration of twenty-five years of this interchange – we hope to highlight the contributions of alumnae and instructors to Mayan scholarship, communities, people and policy. Qualified graduate students are encouraged to apply for FLAS summer grant support (http://stonecenter.tulane.edu/pages/detail/132/Academic-Year-and-Summer-Funding)and students with FLAS Fellowships from other universities are welcome. This program is scheduled for June 25 – August 3, 2012.
Maya Language Study in Guatemala
My research focuses on the socio-economic and political lives of Kaqchikel and K'iche' Maya handicraft vendors. Using a theoretical approach that combines political economy and interpretive perspectives, I have analyzed their participation in tourism settings, handicraft marketplaces, and their homes. I am interested in how they use identity instrumentally for political and economic gain, the reasons why individuals and communities compete for tourism and development money by attending to the performative and self-representative mechanisms they employ, and why community continues to be a powerful way for Mayas to organized their economic, political, and social life, given their participation in global economic and cultural markets.
My other ethnographic research projects include the politics of Maya spirituality, which is in collaboration with two Kaqchikel Maya ajq’ija’ (daykeepers). In addition, to being Maya spiritual guides, one is a field linguist and the other is a lawyer. Our research looks at the increase in participation, increased visibility, and formalization of Maya spirituality from modern historical, juridical, linguistic, and ethnographic perspectives.
In addition to this research, I run two field schools in Guatemala. One is Tulane University's Kaqchikel Maya language and culture class, which I co-direct with Judith Maxwell an anthropological linguist. This class combines instruction in language acquisition and ethnographic field methods. It meets annually during the summer and provides advanced undergraduates and graduate students interested in Mesoamerican archaeology, ethnography, ethnohistory, economic development, and linguistics with an opportunity to acquire skills necessary for conducting research in this region. Brochure, Application Forms. The other is an Ethnographic Field Methods class, which involves a month of intensive fieldwork on a specific topic. This class is offered periodically. Brochure
In October 2005, some colleagues and I started a humanitarian aid collective, the Guatemalan Emergency Relief Fund (GFUND) to address the lack of coordination between aid organizations and Guatemalan communities needing assistance, resulting from Hurricane Stan's damage. We help facilitate and foster communication among Maya communities in need of assistance, development and aid organizations, and academic experts.
Books and Special Issues: Authored, Co-Authored, and Edited
2009, Harvest of Violence Revisited: Mayas in Post War Guatemala
, Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press. (Edited with Timothy J. Smith).
2006, La ütz awäch? Introduction to the Kaqchikel Maya Language
. Austin: University of Texas Press. (With R. McKenna Brown and Judith M. Maxwell).
2006, Kaqchikel Tijonïk Oxlajuj Aj: Curso de Idioma y Cultura Maya Kaqchikel. (With Judith M. Maxwell) Antigua, Guatemala: Editorial Junapu’.
2005, Guest editor, Special Issue: “Maya Livelihoods in Guatemala’s Global Economy,” Latin American Perspectives 32(5).
2004, Mayas in the Marketplace: Tourism, Globalization, and Cultural Identity. Austin: University of Texas Press.
Winner of the New England Council of Latin America Studies Best Book Prize 2005
Peer Reviewed Articles and Book Chapters
2008 A Visual Political Economy of Maya Representations in Guatemala, 1931-1944. Ethnohistory55(4): 633-663.
2008 Living within the Mundo Maya Development Project: Strategies of Maya Handicraft Vendors. Latin American Perspectives 35(3): 87-102.
2008 Weaving Rituals and the Production of Commemorative Cloth in Highland Guatemala. Research in Economic Anthropology 27: 121-148.
2008 Crime, Maya Handicraft Vendors, and the Social Re/Construction of Market Spaces in a Tourism Town. Economies and the Transformation of Landscape. SEA, Volume 25: 267-290. Walnut Creek: Altamira Press.
2007 Chapter 9, “Transnationalism and the Political Economy of Mesoamerica.” In R. Carmack, J. Gasco, and G. Gossen (eds.) The Legacy of Mesoamerica: History and Culture of a Native American Civilization. Prentice Hall. 2nd Edition. Pp. 347-378. (With Liliana Goldín).
2005 Introduction: What Does Globalization Mean to Indigenous/Mayan Workers Working and Organizing in Guatemala. In W. Little, editor, Special Issue: “Maya Livelihoods in Guatemala’s Global Economy,” Latin American Perspectives 32(5).
2005 Getting Organized: Political and Economic Dilemmas for Maya Handicrafts Venders. In W. Little, editor, Special Issue: “Maya Livelihoods in Guatemala’s Global Economy,” Latin American Perspectives 32(5).
2004 In Between Social Movements: Dilemmas of Indigenous Handicrafts Vendors in Guatemala. American Ethnologist. 31(1): 43-59.
2003 Performing Tourism: Maya Women’s Strategies. Special Issue: Development Cultures: New Environments, New Realities, New Strategies. Signs 29(2): 527-532
2003 Commentary on Chocolate Review. American Anthropologist 105(4):881-882.
2003 Common Origins/“Different” Identities in Two Kaqchikel Maya Towns. Journal of Anthropological Research 59(2): 205-224.
2002 Selling Strategies and Social Relations among Mobile Maya Handicrafts Vendors. Research in Economic Anthropology 21: 61-95.
2000 Home as a Place of Exhibition and Performance: Mayan Household Transformations in Guatemala . Ethnology 39(2): 163-181.
2008 Artisanal Production: Overview. In Bonnie G. Smith, editor, Encyclopedia of Women in World History. Oxford University Press.
2008 Artisanal Production: Types of Production. In Bonnie G. Smith, editor, Encyclopedia of Women in World History. Oxford University Press.
2008 International and Regional Trade Systems. In Bonnie G. Smith, editor, Encyclopedia of Women in World History. Oxford University Press.
2005 Alienation. In H. James Birx, editor, Encyclopedia of Anthropology. SAGE Publications. Pp. 50-51.
2005 Anthropology, humanistic. In H. James Birx, editor, Encyclopedia of Anthropology. SAGE Publications. Pp. 169-172.
2005 Geertz, Clifford. In H. James Birx, editor, Encyclopedia of Anthropology. SAGE Publications. Pp. 1027-1028.
2005 Labor, division of. In H. James Birx, editor, Encyclopedia of Anthropology. SAGE Publications. Pp. 1397-1399.
2005 Peasants. In H. James Birx, editor, Encyclopedia of Anthropology. SAGE Publications. Pp. 1833-1836.
2005 Tax, Sol. In H. James Birx, editor, Encyclopedia of Anthropology. SAGE Publications. Pp. 2164-2165.
2005 Turner, Edith. In H. James Birx, editor, Encyclopedia of Anthropology. SAGE Publications. Pp. 2233-2234.
2001 The U.S. Role in Guatemalan Peace. Chicago Tribune 155(301): section 1, 24, October 31.
2001 International Tourism and Nation. Anthropology News 42(4): 53-54.