Mesoamerican Studies On-Air: Episode 29

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029. Ancient Maya Warfare and Community-Based Research with Christopher Hernández

Christopher Hernández is an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology at Loyola University Chicago. His work in anthropological archaeology is fundamentally shaped by the issue of contemporary relevance. How does the past matter or not? This question stems from his upbringing in Chicago as the child of Guatemalan migrants who talked endlessly about their love for Guatemala and the importance of ancient Maya history. Searching for a sense of self in a country that treats all Latinx peoples as foreigners led him to study ancient pyramids as well as contemporary culture: given the pride felt for the Indigenous past, why are contemporary Maya peoples treated so poorly in Guatemala and other part of Latin America? This formative experience shapes how and why he conducts research.

Christopher Hernández’s current research is focused on issues of archaeological ethics, the application of community-based methods, relational philosophy, and understanding social conflict in long-term perspective. Through the application of aerial laser scanning (lidar), documentary analysis, and traditional excavation methods, he investigates how the process of making war shaped landscapes at a regional level. This analysis entails collaborative research into martial tactics and the consolidation of archaeological remains to attract tourism. The reconstruction of ancient structures is conducted in service of the local Indigenous community of Puerto Bello Metzabok.


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