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Thread: PhD thesis topics - Aztec, Mayan, Mesoamerican planning?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    PhD thesis topics - Aztec, Mayan, Mesoamerican planning?

    Hi guys,

    I've been fascinated for many years (particularly as a former History teacher) about the Aztec and Mayan cultures, and have been lucky enough to travel there from Australia in recent years.

    I'd love to do a PhD thesis on some aspect of the planning revolving around these cultures, and have done a fair bit of reading of late. The only trouble is finding a particular aspect of significance to write about.

    I'd really appreciate any ideas from you esteemed planners and colleagues out there on this one! Any help would be great...

    Many thanks,

    Rewey

  2. #2
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    The University of New Mexico, where I got my MCRP, has a dual degree program in Latin American Studies and Planning and there may be some faculty here that could help steer you in some useful direction. Ted Jojola stands out as a possibility, or at least someone who can direct you to a more appropriate source. He is from Isleta Pueblo, south of Albuquerque, and his work focuses on what he has dubbed "Indigenous Planning." In fact, he recently succeeded in getting this included as an Amerian Planning Association Division: http://www.planning.org/indigenous/

    The central idea being to study, understand and apply principles of planning (from social organization to the physical organization of space) among indigenous cultures. His own writing focuses mainly on indigenous planning patterns of Pueblo cultures (the Native American communities of the Rio Grande valley that emerged, in this area, following the breakdown of Chacoan culture around 1300). Its very interesting stuff and I think he writes well. More recently, he has traveled to other parts of Latin America to look at indigenous communities as well and so may have some work out that more directly relates to your interest. You might look up an article or two and just see what his take is and if it gives you some ideas for how to approach your own topic of interest. Or just e-mail him (you can locate him through the university website listed below).

    I don't know if your interest is in physical planning, or socio-cultural aspects of organization and worldview (or something else entirely), but another interesting book about contemporary Mayan influences is Ruben Reina's "A Mayan Way of Knowing." This is actually the subtitle and I forget the main part, but you should be able to find it easily. Dr. Reina also happens to be a good friend of my family and lived in our neighborhood growing up, though that is not whay I am recommending it

    I think what would prove difficult is teasing out what of today's social patterns are associated with these earlier cultures and what is a product of Spanish, other indenous, and numerous globalizing influences, but that's why it would be a PhD, right?

    You can take Mayan language courses at UNM as well and so in the Latin American Studies department, there may be more folks with resources that could be of use to you. Poke around on the univeristy's website and e-mail a couple of professors and see what comes of it.

    http://www.unm.edu

    Good luck.
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  3. #3
    The University at Albany (State Universtiy of New York ) has a Huge number of their faculty dedicated to MesoAmerican studies and research. Dr. Michael Smith was a professor of mine and he specialized in this very thing. It would be worth your time to call up the Anthropology department there.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    I was going to do my thesis on something similar to this but was told by my profs that this topic was "very 60s". I never figured out exactly what they meant but I infered that it meant that it more or less derived from an outdated/romantic notion that anything more can be gained from studying these topics (unless youre an anthropologist) as they have been thoroughly researched. Or not... thats just what i was told

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    Thanks for all the help so far.

    I can see what your lecturer means that it is an outdated, romantic, or 60s notion to see what we can learn from them, but I wasn't really looking at that angle. I guess I wanted to look at the fact that in our modern, all-singing, all-dancing, we-know-it-all, pinnacle-of-creation era that we live in, we still use simple planning designs and principles that 'simple' people hundreds, if not thousands (ie Roman Empire) of years ago were using.

    I guess it was intended to be more of a look at the genius of the 'ancient' civilisations, rather than looking at how great we apparently are today.

    Any other ideas would be awesome. Thanks for everything so far, guys...

    Rewey

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    Apr 2007
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    when i was planning on doing this i was going to use the smithsonian native american musuem as a resource bc they have a seperate building dedicated for researchers only. If youre coming to the US to study this subject and make it over to the east coast, it could be a very very good resource, esp for archival photos and artefacts.

    EDIT: the smithsonian is in washington dc btw ifu didnt know...

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