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The Maya Teaching and Research Group (GERM)

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The GERM (Le Groupe d’enseignement et de recherche maya / The Maya Teaching and Research Group) is a specialised centre of the LESC. Its activities include documentation, research, teaching, research training, and accommodating international research professors and PhD students. Its members include archaeologists, ethnologists, epigraphists, ethnohistorians, linguists and ethnolinguists…
The studies and projects undertaken by this group are characterised by:

  • the primacy of fieldwork,
  • a comparative view of ethnology,
  • multidisciplinarity.

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Lieux de recherche des membres du GERM


The GERM was established in 1975 with the goal of uniting Mayanists from several French and international research centres around various projects in order to analyse: ritual discourse, digital classifiers (expert systems), relationships between language and space, sacred kingship, and other subjects. The GERM has been a specialised centre since 1995. Over the years it has organised a number of research seminars and several international conferences. From 2002 to 2006 it received supported from the Ministry of Research for the project “Geographies of the Sacred: Dynamics of Mayan Identities” (part of the ACI [Action Concertée Incitative / Concerted Incentivising Action] entitled “Terrains, techniques, théories”). It also collaborates with the CEPHCIS, a regional centre of the Nacional Autónoma de México in Mérida, as well as with the Polycat project (financed by the National Research Agency).

Since 1995, in addition to the courses and seminars they run for the Department of Anthropology (University of Paris Nanterre), the members of the GERM have been conducting a academic program at the National Institute of Oriental Languages and Civilisations (INALCO / l’Institut national des langues et civilisations orientales) that, in 2006, led to a national diploma in Mayan Languages and Culture, but has since become a degree in Mayan Languages and Culture.

Some of the GERM’s recent contributions and achievements:

  • conferences organised:

    • Espaces mayas : représentations, utilisations, croyances / Mayan Spaces: Representations, Uses, Beliefs”, 6-8 December 2000
    • Variantes et variations en pays maya / Variants and Variations in the Mayan Region”, 10-12 December 2007
    • La vie quotidienne maya / Mayan Day-to-Day Life”, 8th European Maya Conference (Wayeb), 1-6 December 2008

  • publications:

    • Espacios mayas: usos, representaciones, creencias (México, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Centro de Estudios Mayas / Centro Francés de Estudios Mexicanos y Centroamericanos, 2003), 693 p.
    • Figuras mayas de la diversidad (Mérida, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, CEPHCIS, 2010), 566 p.
    • Maya Daily Life (Proceedings of the 13th European Maya Conference, Paris, 2008), Acta Mesoamericana, 23 (Markt Schwaben, Verlag Anton Saurwein, to be published), 210 p.
   

  • support for individual projects (graduate and postgraduate) of researchers and PhD students;

  • international collaborations (invited researchers have included: William F. Hanks, John B. Haviland, Lourdes de León, Bruna Franchetto, Juan Pedro Viqueira, Alan Rumsey, Chris Ballard, Mario Humberto Ruz, Alfonso Lacadena and Robert M. Carmack);

  • “Mayan Collection”. Thanks to donations from several of its members, over the years the GERM has assembled a collection of some 600 titles, stored in the LESC’s Éric-de-Dampierre Library.


The current project began in 2009. After concentrating on spatial and temporal categories, and then on the variations and variants that move and change the boundaries between categories, we thought it would be interesting – taking inspiration from a few concepts used in quasi topologies – to consider the notion of the “thick boundary” and to introduce the contributions of this concept into the regular GERM seminar in order to raise new questions and provide new answers for the study of spaces, temporalities, rituals, oral and written tradition genres, systems of dietary restriction and prohibition. A first volume has been submitted to the journal Ateliers d’anthropologie. It contains ethnological, ethnohistorical and iconological articles.

Members of the GERM also conduct their own research, enriching discussions on proposed themes. You can view a bibliography of the various participants.

Mis à jour le 26 January 2017