A heritage of ambiguity: The historical substrate of vernacular multiculturalism in Yucatán, Mexico



Forms of official multiculturalism that many recent scholars have characterized as a reflection of post–Cold War social movements and emergent forms of neoliberal governmentality can be experienced locally in ways that reflect a greater degree of continuity with older institutions and styles of politics. In Yucatán, ambiguities in the meaning of officially sanctioned categories such as “Maya” and “indigenous” have persisted even as local people and representatives of the state collaborate in the consolidation of official cultural institutions. The collective experience of several generations of Maya speakers in negotiating this ambiguous discursive space creates strong parallels between contemporary multiculturalism and older indigenist policies. [Maya, Mexico, Yucatán, multiculturalism, indigenous policy, ambiguity]