Society for Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
I discuss how normal activities of the ethnography field school that I direct at Chichén Itzá, México, became a motivating pretext for my being enlisted by community members to aid in policing this archaeological-tourism destination. Specifically a field trip to Chichén Itzá, UNESCO World Heritage Site and New Seven Wonder of the World, has been a constant in the educational program of the field school since 1995. In 2010, however, a new Director of the INAH operations at the site began to prohibit this field school visit and to prevent me from visiting the site. In trying to make sense of this, I was told by friends that “they” did not want me to “learn” about what “they” were doing at Chichén. Unfortunately, I was not told who “they” were or what “they” were “doing.” In other words I was encouraged by friends to study something that they would not tell me what it was that I should investigate and discover. I was enlisted in a kind of ethnographic espionage to produce information useful for them in documenting these "things" that "they" were "doing" and that "they" did not want "me" to know about. The suspense of not telling you, dear reader/interlocutor, who “they” are and what they were “doing” is a necessary component of the ethnographic analysis and reporting. This situation provokes debate about the ethical and political positions of ethnographers and of ethnography in the real world lives of the persons with whom we conduct research.