Multicultural Guatemala: identity, language and arts

In this program, students will engage in the complex questions of identity, language aesthetic expression and the historical conditions that shape creative expression in Guatemala. You will examine Guatemala’s arts — its architecture, painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography, film, dance, music, and literature — in historic and contemporary contexts. Site visits, excursions, lectures, and discussions with a wide range of scholars and artists challenge you to consider the relationship between the arts, language and identity.

Guatemalans are quite diverse; the country is home to a large number of indigenous peoples. However, there are also numerous people with mixed ancestry, including European, Asian, and Arab. For many of these people, their way of life reflects their ethnicity, but also their location.

Roughly half of Guatemala’s population lives in rural areas, while the other half resides in urban areas. In this respect, Guatemala is quite evenly divided, the lifestyle in the cities can be quite different. Most people have jobs in the agriculture or service sector and their jobs permeate their artistic expressions.

A final element that greatly contributes to the way of life in Guatemala is religion. Most of the people are Christian and this faith often makes up a significant part of the people’s lives. For some it may also contribute to socially acceptable behaviors, altering the entertainment scene in the country, which is already muted outside some cities.

Guatemalans have a tendency to identify as either Guatemalan (also referred to as “Chapines”) or by their indigenous ethnicity, such as Mayan or Xinca.