Lecture: Rhonda Taube on Contemporary Guatemalan Masquerade
Nestled deep in the heart of the western highlands, Momostenango, Guatemala, annually hosts a variety of customary, ritual dance-dramas performed during the féria, the public festival dedicated to Santiago Apóstol, the patron saint of the community. This lecture explores how contemporary events in Guatemala, such as the recently ended armed conflict, the consolidation and spread of globalized mass culture, and the rise of transnational migration to the United States have contributed to the development of new forms of religious worship, often expressed as dances. Primary to this talk will be a discussion of how indigenous K’iche’ Maya draw on foreign pop culture images to produce local meaning during the féria and which meanings are shared within society through public ceremonial life.
About Rhonda Taube
Dr. Rhonda Taube incorporated her love of Mesoamerican art into a career as a professor of Art History at Riverside City College. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego and MA and BA degrees in Art History from North Illinois University. Dr. Taube’s research involves the contemporary K’iche’ Maya response to neo-liberalism, trans-nationalism, and globalization as enacted through community festivals and performance.
She is currently working on a book covering her years of fieldwork in the highland Guatemala community of Momostenango, Guatemala, where she has explored the theme of K’iche’ Maya dances and ritual. From 2008-2012, she served as an academic consultant and assistant producer on the award-winning documentary about highland Guatemala, Gods and Kings. Dr. Taube’s recent publications include: co-editing Mesoamerican Figurines: Small-Scale Indices of Large-Scale Social Phenomena, in which she also co-authored a chapter with Karl Taube titled “The Beautiful, the Bad, and the Ugly: Aesthetics and Morality in Maya Figurines.” Other publications include “Manufacturing Identity: Mask-Making and Performance in Postwar Highland Guatemala” (Latin American Perspectives); “Visualizing Identity in the 21st Century Guatemalan Highlands: New Directions in K’iche Masked Performance” (Indigenous Religion and Cultural Performance in the New Maya World); “The Ideal and the Symbolic: Use of Shared Orientational Space in Contemporary Highland Maya Performance” (Maya Imagery, Architecture, and Activity: Space and Spatial Analysis in Art History); and “Sexuality in Mesoamerican Figurines” (The Encyclopedia of Human Sexuality).
Related Exhibition: Guatemalan Masks: Selections from the Jim and Jeanne Pieper Collection
Traditional Guatemalan dance-dramas come to life in a vivid installation of eighty wood masks depicting animals, folk personae, and historical figures that are deeply rooted in Guatemalan religiosity and popular culture. With some examples dating back a century or more, the masks offer insights into how the dances articulate community identities.
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