I have been working with my faculty to find sources of literature regarding the Maya for our intercultural curricula. The Ancient Maya and the Caste War period (1847-1911) are well documented and frequently updated, but books on the adaptation of the Mayas to modern life over a significant period are rare. The Modern Maya is perhaps the only one, and it helps us to understand the processes of adaptation and a parallel process: the development and future of interculturality with a Maya context. I highly recommend this book for scholars and anyone interested in the Maya as well as the interaction between cultures.
–Francisco Rosado May, Rector, Universidad Intercultural Maya de Quintana Roo
After decades on the Yucatan Peninsula Everton brings us not the mysterious Maya of National Geographic, but, rather, a unique, honest, and moving portrait of ordinary Maya people struggling with the choices and stark changes modern times have forced upon their lives. This is a stunningly beautiful and informative work every bit the equal of Walker Evans and James Agee’s much heralded classic of the American South, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. When it comes to the Maya, there’s no other book like this, nor will there likely ever be another.
–Paul Sullivan, author Unfinished Conversations and Xuxub Must Die
Macduff Everton is that rare combination of gifted photographer and fine writer. This beautiful book should be of broad interest to both scholars and the general public.
–Jeremy A. Sabloff, archaeologist and President, Santa Fe Institute, author of The Cities of Ancient Mexico: Reconstructing a Lost World and The New Archaeology and the Ancient Maya
“In addition to its wonderful photography, what makes The Modern Maya stand out is the time Macduff Everton has spent, and spent so well, among the ‘people of time.’ Over more than forty years, he has befriended the Maya and they him, resulting in a deep, sensitive, and collaborative study of both individual lives and the life of one of the world’s oldest, greatest, and most resilient civilizations. This book is essential for all who are curious about the Maya –and for anyone who wishes to understand the upheavals faced by traditional peoples everywhere in our unsteady world.”
–Ronald Wright, author of Time Among the Maya
"Macduff Everton's photographs are some of the most haunting and beautiful documents of Maya life—ancient and modern—I have seen. They provide viewpoints that are uniquely his own, and with artistry and sensitivity, they open up for us, the Western world, a window in the experiences of another people."
–Linda Schele, co-author of The Blood of Kings, A Forest of Kings, Maya Cosmos, and The Code of Kings
"Macduff Everton’s portraits of Yucatecan people and their lives over forty years show Maya people as still successful, still having a conscious sense of balance, and still with a serenity in their gaze that belies the Yucatan's hot scrub and rainforest environs. Each of these photos demands reflection, because in each is a slice of what makes Yucatan and the people living there a model for us all. A Mayan phrase of leave-taking sums up Everton's photography, “xicech yete‘utz,” — “you go with beauty.”
–Allan F. Burns, duPont-Magid Professor of Anthropology and Chair of the Dept. of Anthropology at University of Florida, author of An Epoch of Miracles, Oral Literature of the Yucatec Maya and Maya in Exile: Guatemalans in Florida
Macduff Everton's The Modern Maya: Incidents of Travel and Friendship in Yucatán is a rare find. It is a scholarly monograph that is artful, a portrait of a people and culture in transition that is nuanced, honest, and at the same time conceptually rigorous, and clearly a labor of love that can remind anthropology of the heart behind the discipline. As Everton's title implies, this is not only a book about the past, and decades of relationship and research; it is also a work firmly rooted in the present, an apt illustration of the many ways one can be modern. Everton's photographs are luminous, and this is no less true here, but the gem in this book are the stories - the ways Everton's interlocutors live out, and live through, large scale political, economic, and social transitions with clarity and grace.
–Sienna Craig, Chair of Department of Anthropology, Dartmouth College, author Horses Like Lightning: A Story of Passage Through the Himalayas
The Modern Maya are a people engulfed in the present, but rooted in the past. For too long that past has been suppressed. But a new cycle is beginning, and there is hope and optimism for the future. Macduff captures both ends of this process in a story based on long-term relationships, shared dreams, and connections to place and the land. This is an amazing agroecological history of the Maya.
–Stephen R. Gliessman, Ruth and Alfred Heller Professor Emeritus of Agroecology, UC Santa Cruz, author of Agroecology: The Ecology of Sustainable Food Systems and The Conversion to Sustainable Agriculture: Principles, Processes, and Practices
After a half millennia of colonization and its attendant horrors, perhaps the only true and lasting gift the white man, the European, the Hispanic, had left to offer the indigenous peoples of the Americas arrived rather belatedly, by default really, yet all the more precious perhaps because of that fact–the gift of preservation and remembrance, a promise in the hearts of that other tribe–anthropologists, archeologists, ethnographers, documentarians, film makers, writers and photographers–who have dedicated their lives to the proposition that the trampled and defeated civilizations of the New World shall be neither lost nor forgotten, even as the 21st century threatens to assimilate their traditions and living remnants into a homogenized global mainstream. Macduff Everton’s The Modern Maya, forty years in the making, is such a gift, not just to the people of the Yucatán, but to anyone with a love for the individual story, the mesmerizing image, the nexus where the ordinary, as Macduff writes, becomes extraordinary and magical.
–Bob Shacochis, National Book Award-winning author of The Immaculate Invasion, The Woman Who Lost Her Soul, and Kingdoms in the Air
Forty years is a lifetime—that's what you will encounter in Macduff Everton's new volume: A visual history of the living Maya on the Yucatán Peninsula— working, marrying, celebrating religious festivals—people you will get to know, while watching them grow, through Macduff’s sensitive eye. He captures the sorrows and joys of Maya life—he shares with his reader his friendship and admiration over the many years of recording his visits. What a worthy way to spend forty years.
–Justin Kerr, Photographer, Mayanist, Photographer of The Blood of Kings and Painting the Maya Universe: Royal Ceramics of the Classic Period; and Co-photographer of Code of Kings and Maya Cosmos
Macduff Everton chose a felicitous title for his book, The Modern Maya, for despite the large number of tourists who visit Yucatán, a surprising number of the general public believes that the Maya have been extinct for hundreds of years. Macduff’s forte is his presentation of panoramic photograph, portraiture, ethnographic detail and fluid description, requiring the reader to look and to listen.
Witnessing the extreme deforestation of Yucatán by outsiders, we are surprised to learn that these Mayas consider themselves to be forest people who lament the destruction of their environment. Jumping from the Mayan past to the forty years of Macduff’s life among present day Mayas we are provided with an intimate view of their aspirations, their hopes and their dreams.
–Robert Laughlin, Curator emeritus, Mesoamerica Ethnology, Smithsonian Institution