33 color plates, 28 drawings, 27 halftones, 2 maps, 18 tables

Religious Transformation in Maya Guatemala

Cultural Collapse and Christian Pentecostal Revitalization
Edited by John P. Hawkins



Mayas, and indeed all Guatemalans, are currently experiencing the collapse of their way of life. This collapse is disrupting ideologies, symbols, life practices, and social structures that have undergirded their society for almost five hundred years, and it is causing rapid and massive religious transformation among the K’iche’ Maya living in highland western Guatemala. Many Mayas are converting to Christian Pentecostal faiths in which adherents and leaders become bodily agitated during worship.

Drawing on over fifty years of research and data collected by field-school students, Hawkins argues that two factors—cultural collapse and systematic social and economic exclusion—explain the recent religious transformation of Maya Guatemala and the style and emotional intensity through which that transformation is expressed. Guatemala serves as a window on religious change around the world, and Hawkins examines the rapid pentecostalization of Christianity not only within Guatemala but also throughout the global South. The “pentecostal wail,” as he describes it, is ultimately an acknowledgment of the angst and insecurity of contemporary Maya.

Published in Association with School for Advanced Research Press

Contributor Bios
John P. Hawkins is a professor emeritus of anthropology at Brigham Young University. During his forty years at BYU, he conducted research in Guatemala, and he co-directed the Anthropology Department Field School in Nahualá and Santa Catarina Ixtahuacán from 1995 through 2006 and in 2009.