The highland Guatemala títulos are part of a corpus of colonial Mesoamerican indigenous texts composed by native authors in the middle of the sixteenth century. These texts present an “official” version of native “history” based on the precolonial oral tradition and influenced by the mytho-historical content of the better-known indigenous text, the Popol Vuh. Although the títulos were created for territorial disputes and claims to rights before the Spanish legal system, they also represented Maya-K’iche’ responses to colonial domination and reveal how the Maya K’iche’ perceived themselves and redefined their identity in relation to colonial power. More specifically, the títulos highlight the social and interethnic complexities that the colonial situation presented in highland Guatemala and in Mesoamerica in general. This comparative analysis of the Título de Totonicapán and the Título de C’oyoi demonstrates that these narratives, primarily considered as ethnohistorical sources, are excellent illustrations of the array of indigenous responses to colonial domination, particularly during the early colonial period in highland Guatemala. More specifically, it shows how differently each Maya-K’iche’ ethnic group lived and outlived the colonial experience according to their particular circumstances. It is argued that despite three hundred years under Spanish colonial rule, the Maya-K’iche’ did not collapse under the sociocultural and religious coercive forces of colonization. Rather, they ensured the continuity of the Maya-K’iche’ religion, history, and identity throughout the colonial period through partial assimilation, hybridization, and co-optation or resistance to European culture and religion.
Research Article|April 01 2011
Néstor I. Quiroa; Revisiting the Highland Guatemala Títulos: How the Maya-K’iche’ Lived and Outlived the Colonial Experience. Ethnohistory 1 April 2011; 58 (2): 293–321. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00141801-1163046
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