Marine & Environmental Sciences Faculty Proceedings, Presentations, Speeches, Lectures


Visions of Nature and Place in Myth and Story Among Campesinos in Veracruz, Mexico

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American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, New Orleans, LA, November 17-21, 2010

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The early inhabitants of the El Manati area, Veracruz, Mexico, where this research took place, were the ancient Olmecs. The current inhabitants, separated by centuries, are campesinos, with roots from various places in Mexico. Today’s residents around El Manati are not direct descendants of the Olmecs, however, across different time periods, the two groups have shared and depended on the same sacred and natural spaces. Significant Olmec archaeological finds have occurred in places the campesinos now use every day, including nearby springs. Local myths and stories continue to connect these contemporary campesinos to both ancient places and the vanishing nature around them in several ways. The myths and stories collected in this research during participant interviews demonstrate the interrelationship between the campesinos and nature. They also reveal changes that have occurred in both the ecosystem itself as well as changes in the way the campesinos think about the nature around them. In addition, the myths and stories exemplify the importance and meaning of place to modern-day residents of El Manati.

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