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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Monuments and Promise: Maya Ruins and the Death of Felipe Carrillo Puerto

Published Web Location Commons 'BY' version 4.0 license

In 1923 the peripheral state of Yucatán saw an unusual confluence of personalities and interests. The new governor, Felipe Carrillo Puerto, was putting a radical socialist experiment into practice, while trying to impress upon the Maya campesinato the glories of their underrespected heritage. The liberal New York magazine Survey Graphic was putting together a special issue that would highlight that experiment. The local upper classes were awakening to the possibilities of cultural tourism. US archaeologists were beginning a major investigation and restoration project at the Maya city of Chichén Itzá. A Californian woman journalist was accompanying the archaeologists, in the process both learning about earlier US depredations at Chichén Itzá and falling in love with the new governor. This paper disentangles these threads in the interest of illuminating a key moment of cultural production in the American periphery.

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