November 12, 2016 Aldo Anzures Tapia, Graduate Research Fellow pursuing his Ph.D. in Educational Linguistics, University of Pennsylvania and
Kasey Diserens, third year doctoral student in the Anthropology Department, University of Pennsylvania:
The Tihosuco Heritage Preservation and Community Development Project: Strengthening Ties to Language and the Built Environment"           

The Tihosuco Project seeks to combat the visible economic and social inequality in the region through community-organized initiatives regarding identity, economy, and future.  Our speakers aim is to work with the community of Tihosuco to frame a Maya heritage based not on the ancient Maya, but about the more recent history of the Caste War. This research is conducted as part of a larger project run jointly by the Museo de la Guerra de Castas in Tihosuco, the Tihosuco Ejido, Land Commune, the Mayor’s Office, and the Penn Cultural Heritage Center at the University of Pennsylvania. The project is anchored by a concern for the history of the Caste War of Yucatán, or Maya Social War, 1847-1901. This conflict, although understudied and often silenced, was arguably one of the most successful indigenous revolts in the New World.

The talk was broken into two parts. First, Kasey Diserens discussed an overview of the project and the progress made over the last few years. It specifically focused on understanding the Caste War through investigations into the built environment in and around Tihosuco.  Second, Aldo Anzures Tapia explored the efforts undertaken by local activists in Tihosuco to reverse language shift experienced in the community. Based on a presentation that the local activists already delivered, with this talk he honored the ways the local activists deliberately use archaeology as a trigger to open spaces in order to have conversations with children about tangible and intangible heritage, being language revitalization and maintenance an area of utter importance in these dialogues.

Aldo Anzures Tapia is a Graduate Research Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania pursuing his Ph.D. in Educational Linguistics. The focus of his research is geared towards indigenous education and language revitalization mainly in Mexico and Latin America. For the last two years he has engaged in collaborative research with the Caste War Museum through the Tihosuco Heritage Preservation and Community Project, where they have produced bilingual lesson plans and materials for the museum workshops, documented bilingual rap practices in the town, recorded oral histories from the town’s elders, as well as promoted a trilingual approach to the museography.

Kasey Diserens is a third year doctoral student in the Anthropology Department at the University of Pennsylvania.  Her research focuses on community- based historic preservation, identity, and the built environment.  For the past three years, she has worked in Tihosuco in collaboration with the Penn Cultural Heritage Center and the Museo de la Guerra de Castas documenting the colonial structures of the town. She has also been interviewing the owners of the houses, and sitting in on meetings with town officials and government agencies as they discuss the future of the structures.

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