Accueil du site> Membres du LESC > Membres permanents > PÉDRON COLOMBANI Sylvie (EREA)


Regional fields

Guatemala, Mexico, USA

Thematic fields

socio-anthropology of religion, rituals, migration, anthropology of the contemporary Mayan world


Guatemala, Pentecostalism, Mayan religion, Maximón cult, syncretism, migration

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Sylvie Pédron Colombani is a senior lecturer in the department of sociology at the University of Paris West Nanterre La Défense. She teaches courses to students from L1 to M2: “Introduction to Sociology”, “Sociology and Anthropology”, “The Transformation of Contemporary Societies”, “Introduction to Cultural Sociology”, “Space and Society in Latin America”, “Comparative Sociology”, “New Religious Movements”, “A Socio-Anthropological Approach to Latin America”. She is also responsible for an anthropology course on the contemporary Mayan world at the INALCO (National Institute of Oriental Languages and Civilisations / l’Institut national des langues et civilisations orientales).

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Maximón, Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala, 2004
(photo S. Pedron)

A member of the LESC’s EREA, her research essentially focuses on religious phenomena in Guatemala. She has analysed the conversion of Guatemalan populations to Pentecostal churches, which are numerous in the region (see her PhD thesis). She is also interested in the development of a cult originating in a Tzutujil Indian village on Lake Atitlán, dedicated to the divinity Maximón – a figure resulting from a meeting between two worlds of meaning: Catholic and Mayan. Born on the margins of popular Catholicism and rooted to a local Indian past, today this cult is caught between Mayan identity claim processes and mixed-race reappropriations. For several years she has been dedicating field visits to this study. These have taken her to Santiago Atitlán, where she examined the origin of the cult, its organisation and contemporary rituals. Her reflection was guided by the theme of fertility – agricultural, of women, but also commercial, a key element of the contemporary economy. She has worked on the hybrid character of this cult deeply rooted in the country’s history.

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San Simón festival, Los Angeles, 2011 (photo S. Pedron)

In order to examine this cult’s national and transnational dynamic, she extended her empirical research to Mexico and the United States (Los Angeles, California) where she analysed its relocation and resignification. This ongoing work has led her to develop a consideration of the mobility and globalisation of the religious, the link between this kind of “neo-traditional” cult and the new-age network (to be published), revolving around notions of boundaries and Central American population migration, and around this migrant population’s relationship with the religious.

Principal publications

  • 2010, Le culte de Maximón. Entre monde maya et migrations internationales, Autrepart, 2010 (4): 75–92 [special issue: Migrations et transformations des paysages religieux].
  • 2010, Religion, identités, lien social, in C. Moricot (ed.) Multiples du social. Regards socio-anthropologiques (Paris, L’harmattan): 187–193.
  • 2008, Diversificación y competencia religiosa en Guatemala: entre pentecostalismo y cultos neo-tradicionales, Revista Sociedade e Estado, 23 (2, maio-ago): 355–379.
  • 2008, El culto de Maximón en Guatemala: entre procesos de reivindicación indígena y de reapropriación mestiza, Trace, 54: 31–44.
  • 2006, Maximón au Guatemala. Entre ambivalence éthique et rites de fertilité, in J.-P. Castellain, S. Gruzinski, C. Salazar-Soler (eds), De l’ethnographie à l’histoire. Paris – Madrid – Buenos-Aires. Les mondes de Carmen Bernand (Paris, L’Harmattan): 289–314.
  • 2006 (with Hervé Colombani), Maximón, 27 minutes, CNRS image.
  • 2005, Maximón au Guatemala. Dieu, saint ou traitre (Londres, Editions Periplus) [english version: Maximón. Guatemalan god, saint or traitor, London, Editions Periplus, 2005.
  • 1998, Le pentecôtisme au Guatemala. Conversion et identité (Paris, éditions du CNRS) [Amérique latine et pays ibériques].


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Mis à jour le 16 January 2013

Maître de conférences, Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense, Département de sociologie
[Associate Professor/Senior Lecturer]


EREA website