The logo of the IUAES 2021 Yucatan Conference was designed to show all the elements that serve to construct the dialogue we wish to establish between participating anthropologists and specialists at the different panels and attending public to the scheduled activities.
In the centre of the logo, we have the confidant chairs, which have existed in the city of Merida since 1910, and in the rest of the cities of Yucatan throughout the 20th century and into the 21st century. Since they were introduced in public spaces, they have been a symbol of the frank and honest conviviality that should exist among people and especially between friends and couples in love. These double chairs are a copy of European indoor chairs, which were thought to lend an element of privacy in public gardens, for people to hold a conversation that would lead to a more personal, perhaps more intimate relationship, over time.
We can also find three additional elements around this symbol of communication and dialogue.
The snail is a lavish, sacred icon that has been present from the time of ancient Mesoamerican cultures, such as that of the Mayans and into today’s societies. Bathed by the waters of the cenotes where it is embodied by the wind, the snail is tied to life, birth and death, and the underworld. It represents the labyrinth that links material and spiritual forms of culture, where time has no beginning or end. Where large and small ceremonial centres shelter, decorate and bear witness to its presence between the shores and the land. They linger on the altars and present-day tombs of our ancestors and are permanently set for all eternity on the glyph that represents the “zero” in Mayan codices.
The word Ja’means water in the Mayan language. In Yucatan, whose coasts are bathed by the Gulf of Mexico, there are no rivers. Nevertheless, the ancient Mayan culture, which is world-famous for material vestiges such as the cities of Chichen and Uxmal, flourished in its territory; both of these cities have been named cultural heritage of humanity. Water runs through underground rivers called cenotes (dzonoto’ob), caves (aaktuno’ob), lakes (aak’alo’ob) and other similar reservoirs. The ancient Mayas also built wells that served to hold and preserve rainwater (chultuno’ob). Albeit the importance of water for life on earth, and against the international and national legislation in force, the whole world, and this country, are witnessing the drama of its monopolisation and appropriation at the hands of large, capitalist enterprises that threaten the survival of this planet.
Bees are an essential heritage of Yucatan. A region where it is estimated there exist approximately 16 varieties, among which is the xunan kab (“lady bee” in Mayan language). In recognition of their value for the ancient Mayans, they were characterised in various settings, from vessels to codices. Honey and wax were used for commercial, tax, and medicinal purposes since pre-Hispanic and colonial times. In 2019, Yucatan was Mexico’s leading producer of honey, with a production of 9,810 tons. Beekeeping is a means of subsistence for thousands of Mayan families and, despite their economic, cultural, medicinal and pollination importance, bees currently face serious threats due to the expansion of industrial agriculture, livestock and urbanization, deforestation, forest fires and the use of pesticides, as well as hurricanes, storms and droughts. For these reasons, Mayan organizations and activists, environmentalists, academicians, and civil society have moved to defend bees and beekeeping as a fundamental bio-cultural heritage for the survival of humanity and of other species.
All of these elements have come together as an invitation to dialogue, to the exchange of ideas, and to sharing the cultural wealth nurtured by diversity and, as with the confidant chairs, by the horizontal. Welcome to the IUAES 2021 Yucatan Conference
* Information provided by Rodrigo Llanes, Gabriela Vargas Cetina, Julia Fraga and Ella F. Quintal