Symposium to Discuss Maya Spirituality and Predictions

Symposium to Discuss Maya Spirituality and Predictions

9/9/13 ASHLAND, Ohio - The Ashland University College of Arts and Sciences continues its year-long Symposium Against Indifference: Engaging Latin America and the Caribbean, with a presentation about Maya spirituality and the 2012 predictions by Elizabeth Bell, senior lecturer from The Ohio State University.

Co-sponsored by the Foreign Languages Department, the free public event is scheduled on Wednesday, Sept. 18, at 7 p.m. in the Schar College of Education's Ronk Lecture Hall.

In her presentation, Bell will discuss the attempts of the Mayas to decolonize their systems of knowledge, focusing on the infamous 2012 “doomsday” predictions. She will share examples from her fieldwork before and after 2012.  It will show how, when unable to achieve social and political representation and recognition in this highly stratified post-colonial society, the Maya population negotiates meaning and achieves legitimacy by using the very tool which sets them apart: their culture.

Bell explains, “These communities make part of a society with increasing religious plurality, economic and ethnic inequality, drug-related violence and the legacy of military violence and discrimination.  They face ongoing lack of recognition and voicelessness in a society that values them only insofar as their culture can be appropriated for a growing tourism industry.”

One of the cultural objects colonized through this industry and the media around the world is the Maya calendar and time predictions, which constitute clear demonstrations of ancient and sophisticated systems of knowledge.

In 2009, Bell received a Fulbright grant to carry out fieldwork in Guatemala, focusing on the spiritual practices of Kaqchikel-Maya communities. She received her doctorate in 2012, specializing in Latin American literatures and cultures with a minor in Folklore Studies. She has worked with the Kaqchikel-Maya population in Guatemala since 2006 and studies the post-war resurgence of traditional Maya spiritual practices. She has published several articles based on her research and is currently revising her book manuscript for publication.

For more information about the Symposium Against Indifference, visit or contact Dr. Christopher Swanson, professor of mathematics, at or 419.289.5264.

Ashland University, ranked in the top 200 colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category for 2013, is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University ( values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students. ###