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Dr. Manuel May Castillo

Dr. Manuel May Castillo

Alumni / Postdoctoral Researcher


Ludwig-Maximilians University Munich
Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology
Oettingenstr. 67
80538 München

Phone: +49 (0) 89 / 2180 - 9643
Fax: +49 (0) 89 / 2180 - 9602

Work group

Indigeneities in the 21st century: From ‘vanishing people’ to global players in one generation
(ERC Starting Grant, Number 803302)

Principal Investigator: Prof. Dr. Philipp Schorch

Research interests/Area of responsibility

Mayan Indigenous Itineraries

Maya peoples have played an active role in contemporary Indigenous movements across the Pacific and on a global scale. Some Maya representatives were actively involved in the working group that developed the principles of justice recognized by the UN Declaration in 2007. At the collective and domestic level, they achieved important advances in the recognition of human rights while contributing to the rewriting of the history of Mexico and Guatemala. This project sets out to study the role of Mayan communities in global Indigenous movements of the 21st century, and to examine their contributions to the discourse of Indigeneity and its contemporary reconfigurations. The historical-ethnographic investigation of Indigenous itineraries traces and maps the decolonizing journeys of Mayan individuals and communities in the social, cultural, economic and political landscapes of Mexico and Guatemala. It pays special attention to the historical networks, pathways and nodes that paved the way for these contemporary journeys and triggered the involvement of Mayan actors in global Indigenous movements. By conducting community-based research and deploying participatory action research methods, this project delves into the cultural continuities - language, rituals, cosmology - perpetuated and advocated through the process of transformation into global actors. In doing so, it shows how such advocacy becomes an agglutinating element binding together Maya and other Indigenous peoples at regional, transpacific and global levels. Last but not least, this study promotes the implementation of Indigenous epistemologies and ontologies in research endeavours, and pursues the goal of developing a human rights-based methodology.


Manuel May Castillo is a Maya scholar. His work focuses on Maya heritage, neocolonialism, transnationalism, and Indigenous movements in Mexico and Guatemala. Manuel’s research is aligned with postcolonial studies and decolonizing methodologies, and the reintegration of cultural memory for the empowerment of Indigenous communities. He has conducted postdoctoral research at the Institute of Archaeology and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Bonn, Germany, and previously worked as Assistant Professor at the Department of Heritage of Indigenous Peoples, Faculty of Archaeology, at Leiden University, the Netherlands. Manuel is co-editor of Heritage and Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2017).