By Pepin Van Roojen

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Already in the midst of summer fieldwork, I turned my attention to the local participants in the protests, the custodios (guards and caretakers) of Chichén Itzá. Chichén’s custodios are federal employees of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), the state agency responsible for the identification, investigation, and protection of the nation’s archaeological, historic, and artistic heritage. These workers at Chichén, many of them second- and thirdgeneration workers in the archaeological zone, comprised one of the links joining this international tourist destination and World Heritage site to national politics through their expressions of ownership of the ruins.

Early legislation following Independence balanced the young nation’s concerns for external sovereignty and internal coherence. The 1827 Arancel de Aduanas (a legal code dictating customs tariffs) officially prohibited exportation of archaeological finds. In asserting control over the flow of artifacts across its borders, this legislation discursively linked the concept of the territorial integrity of a modern sovereign nation with the objects of cultural heritage. While the Arancel de Aduanas demonstrates the nation looking toward the outside world, other pieces of early legislation reflect a concern with internal coherence—again played out through heritage properties.

The Cartografía de Recursos Culturales project raises several questions objectively pertinent to broader concerns in the fields of preservation, 02-T3796 7/31/06 1:24 PM Page 30 30 the ambivalence of heritage conservation, and cultural resource management. As we will see, the codification of cultural resources—for the most part tangible resources such as archaeological and historic monuments—has long been a practice of the patrimonial Mexican state. In its objective to locate resources geographically, economically, and socially, the project maps a space of ambivalence.

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Ancient Mexican Designs by Pepin Van Roojen
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