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The house of the jaguar: The engaged anthropology of Gertrude Duby Blom at Museo Na Bolom

Mary L Robison, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Museo Na Bolom uses anthropology and archaeology to educate the public, organize for political change, and preserve cultural knowledge in Chiapas, Mexico. The museum was founded by Gertrude Duby and Frans Blom. This dissertation examines the substantial written legacy of Gertrude Duby Blom and her practice of what has since been termed "engaged anthropology." During fieldwork in the archives, the focus of the project shifted from research to "rescue archaeology" when a flood severely compromised the archives. All available typescript manuscripts were scanned to preserve their information in digital format from further environmental damage; 322 different typescript manuscripts were scanned (a total of 5442 pages). A CD of scanned documents has been deposited at Na Bolom. The script documents remain for future work. Gertrude Duby Blom's background and Mexican work is discussed, including her close personal relationship with the Lacandon Maya of southern Mexico. The Lacandon, two groups of formerly horticulturalists, inhabit a region that is highly contested and under close scrutiny since the 1994 Zapatista uprising. Gertrude Blom's papers, which include interviews with elderly female participants in the Mexican Revolution, notes from numerous excursions into difficult-to-access regions of Chiapas, and a record (over time) of environmental damage in Chiapas were assessed, as was Na Bolom's role in the preservation of cultural knowledge for a number of highland Maya groups and for the Lacandon. Essentially, this study is designed to be both an autoethnography of an important Mexicanist and a contribution to the preservation of indigenous cultural patrimony.

Subject Area

Cultural anthropology|Archaeology

Recommended Citation

Robison, Mary L, "The house of the jaguar: The engaged anthropology of Gertrude Duby Blom at Museo Na Bolom" (2006). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3215915.