Accepted Paper:

Survivors' Strategies: Maya women organisations - a documentary in a pandemic context  
Giovanna Miralles Terán de Wilkin (Canterbury Christ Church University)

Paper short abstract:

The strategies used by Maya women social organisations in times of crisis, permit the emergence of methodologies for collaborative documentary production. The development of these methods, enriched by Maya cultural perspectives, creates an ethnographic proximity in a collective, polyphonic style.

Paper long abstract:

Ethnographic researchers faced the challenge of a new way of conducting studies in the very real obligation to work at distance. Different platforms of communication could be a palliative, still these methods need to be implemented rigorously in a creative way. This paper will explore methods of producing a collaborative documentary with Maya women social organisations.

The leading roles of Maya women in social organisations during and after the Guatemalan civil war (1960-1997) was not fortuitous, many were the only survivors of massacres. These organisations have evolved in different ways, Maya K'iche' sociologist Gladys Tzul Tzul, explained how communal survival strategies in times of war had been successfully used for the Covid-19 pandemic. To gain a fuller understanding of Maya women, we need to look beyond economic discrimination in relation to their knowledge, world-views and philosophies. These will unable us to learn from these organisational and communication strategies, which differ from Western individualism.

With this in mind, for research to be truly collaborative, participatory and ethical, it needs to recognise the agency of the participants. Yet this cannot be exempt of conflict, as the decolonisation theorist Rivera Cusicanqui, concludes: 'Every difference reproduces itself from the depths of the past and relates with the others in a contentious way.' The introduction of a strong network of collaborators in the field: leaders of organisations, local specialists and individuals, will enable the emergence of new methodology using Maya strategies to communicate at a distance in a collective and polyphonic documentary.

Panel P03
Existential crisis, exceptional fields: expanding fieldwork and storytelling in the face of violence and pandemic
  Session 1