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Protestantism(s) and Mayan Worldviews in Chiapas and Guatemala in the Context of Civil Violence

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This article discusses religious change among the Maya population in the violence-torn regions of highland Chiapas and Guatemala, and observes how this changes brings to bear on indigenous perceptions of ethnic and community identity. The focus is primarily upon Protestant conversion among the Maya, not only because it is dynamic, in that it is the movement which involves a large number of converts, but also because it also seems, at least superficially, to represent a massive cultural assault on the mundo maya. Yet the large number of Maya who have converted to Protestantism over the past three decades suggests that many Maya see conversion in a very different light. It is our contention that one of the reasons for this is that conversion to Protestantism (as well as to other types of “new” religions, such as charismatic Catholicism) is the latest manifestation of Maya strategies of adaptation and survival, particularly against a climate of civil violence, within a matrix of religious behavior.


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