cover of book

Emergency: Reading the Popol Vuh in a Time of Crisis
by Edgar Garcia
University of Chicago Press, 2022
Paper: 978-0-226-81859-7 | Cloth: 978-0-226-81860-3 | eISBN: 978-0-226-81861-0
Library of Congress Classification F1465.P83G37 2022
Dewey Decimal Classification 299.78423

Nine short essays exploring the K’iche’ Maya story of creation, the Popol Vuh.
Written during the lockdown in Chicago in the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic, these essays consider the Popol Vuh as a work that was also written during a time of feverish social, political, and epidemiological crisis as Spanish missionaries and colonial military deepened their conquest of indigenous peoples and cultures in Mesoamerica. What separates the Popol Vuh from many other creation texts is the disposition of the gods engaged in creation. Whereas the book of Genesis is declarative in telling the story of the world’s creation, the Popol Vuh is interrogative and analytical: the gods, for example, question whether people actually need to be created, given the many perfect animals they have already placed on earth.
Emergency uses the historical emergency of the Popol Vuh to frame the ongoing emergencies of colonialism that have surfaced all too clearly in the global health crisis of COVID-19. In doing so, these essays reveal how the authors of the Popol Vuh—while implicated in deep social crisis—nonetheless insisted on transforming emergency into scenes of social, political, and intellectual emergence, translating crisis into creativity and world creation.

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