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Mary Katherine Scott

2012 Phd in Art History, Sainsbury Research Unit, UEA (UK)

2008 M.A. in Art History, Northern Illinois University (USA)

2008 Museum Studies Certificate, Northern Illinois University (USA)
2005 M.A. in Spanish, University of Wyoming (USA)

2003 B.F.A. in Studio Art & Spanish, University of Wyoming (USA)

Research interests

Mesoamerican (particularly Maya) art and archaeology, tourist art, cultural production and representation, globalization, the art market and value systems, visual culture studies, and cultural identity among the Maya of Yucatán, Mexico.

Selected Publications
2012 Scott, Mary Katherine, (guest editor). "Engaging with Pasts in the Present: Curators,Communities and Exhibition Practice." Special volume of the journal Museum Anthropology 35(1):1-9 Wiley-Blackwell.

2012 Scott, Mary Katherine, “Reflections on Collaboration: Exhibiting Contemporary Maya Art.” In “Engaging with Pasts in the Present: Curators, Communities and Exhibition Practice." Museum Anthropology 35(1), M.K. Scott (ed.):71-84. Wiley-Blackwell. 

2010 Scott, Mary Katherine. “Examining the Messages of Contemporary ‘Tourist Art’ in Yucatán, Mexico: Comparing Chichén Itzá and the Puuc Region.” In Tourism and Visual Culture, Volume 2: Methods and Cases. Pp. 1-12. P. Burns, J-A. Lester and L. Bibbings, eds. Wallingford, Oxfordshire, UK: Cabi Press.

2009 Scott, Mary Katherine. “Representing the Maya: When is it Appropriate to call Apropriations’ Art?” In Crafting Maya Identity: Contemporary Wood Sculptures from the Puuc Region of Yucatán, Mexico. exh. cat. Jeff Karl Kowalski (ed.): 174-190.  DeKalb, IL: Northern Illinois University Press.

2009 Scott, Mary Katherine and Jeff Karl Kowalski. “Imaging the Maya: Carvings, Carvers, Contexts, and Messages.” In Crafting Maya Identity: Contemporary Wood Sculptures from the Puuc Region of Yucatán, Mexico. exh. cat. Jeff Karl Kowalski (ed.): 3-82.           DeKalb, IL: Northern Illinois University Press.

PhD Thesis

Representation and Art Production among the Contemporary Maya: Form, Meaning and Value of Artesanías in the Puuc Region of Yucatán, Mexico

The steady rise in tourism in Yucatán beginning in the 1960s has made producing and selling handicrafts a profitable industry and an appealing alternative to other lines of work. The exotic or timeless image of the Maya presented by the tourism industry and popular media sources has influenced the kinds of artistic objects that are produced and sold within Yucatán. Recognising this, artisans create pieces that will appeal to tourists’ perceptions of what constitutes authentic Maya culture. Similar situations exist all over the world in indigenous communities that have experienced a sharp rise in tourism in the last fifty years. This has provided a plentiful array of case studies for anthropologists interested in studying the effects of globalisation and the tourism industry in indigenous areas. In addition to the growing interest in tourism as an anthropological, sociological, economic, and artistic phenomenon has been a greater concern with studying the objects produced in zones of cross-cultural encounter, and the ways in which they are exchanged and consumed by tourists.

This PhD thesis discusses tourist art production among the contemporary Maya in the Puuc region of Yucatán, Mexico. Working within tourist art studies as my broader field of scholarly enquiry, I analyse artesanías, a kind of tourist art, for my specific case study. The thesis focuses on representation in Puuc artesanías, and specifically the ideas that are expressed via their form, meaning and value in the context of the Puuc region tourism industry, the vehicle that makes commercial handicraft production possible and viable. The analysis explores how the form and presentation of an object affect its meaning for different actors or agents involved in its production and consumption. The research addresses the way value systems are constructed and how they influence what we consider beautiful, meaningful, or worthy of being purchased or collected. Finally, it examines how the tourism industry affects the creativity, livelihood and identity of Maya artisans who are caught between the tensions of modernity and tradition inherent in any post-colonial society.
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