Ramón Arzápalo Marín, a Latin American & Iberian Institute Visiting Scholar from the Instituto de Investigaciones Antropológicas at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico, presents, "The Colonial Maya Texts: Recent Contributions to the Theory of Semiotic Translation," on Thursday, March 21 from noon to 1 p.m. at the LAII, located at 801 Yale Blvd. NE on the UNM campus. The event is free and open to the public.

This presentation draws upon the research that Arzápalo has done at UNM. He will discuss how "Maya civilization is characterized by the development of a complex writing system that allowed members of this high culture to record their scientific, artistic and especially their historical texts. For a thorough understanding of their messages it is necessary to become acquainted with the script that they used for books, murals and stellae. We provide an overview of the structure and development of the hieroglyphs or written signs relied on by the Maya for these records until the arrival of the Spaniards. We offer a critical analysis of the nature of this script based on recent, extensive research on documents of the Colonial period.

"The analysis of an encoded text taken from The Book of Chilam Balam of Chumayel is key to laying the foundation for a solid methodology for interpreting pre-Columbian texts written by the Maya. However, in order to correctly interpret the messages indicated by the analytical components, it is important to also consider such pragmatic information as their place in history and the surrounding social interrelations. The heuristic of our analysis should clarify some intercultural phenomena, usually overlooked since the 16th century, that have damaged interethnic relations."

Arzápalo holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Cologne in the Federal Republic of Germany (1972) and has carried out post-graduate studies at the Universities of Pennsylvania and Indiana, the University of Alberta in Canada, and at the Universidad de la República in Uruguay.

He has given 155 seminars and courses in Mexico and abroad, and some 70 presentations on topics within his fields of study. Arzápalo has organized 24 national and international academic meetings and has given more than 70 papers at academic congresses held in North America, Europe, Asia and Mexico.

He is a member of the European Academy of Science, Art and the Humanities (since 1989), of the Mexican Academy of Sciences (since 1994), and forms part of the National Roster of Researchers in Mexico (since 1985), the Mexican Association of Anthropologists (since 1987), and has served as its president from 1993-1995.

Arzápalo is also a member of the Latin American Association of Linguistics and Philology, where he is the coordinator of the Committee on Amerindian Linguistics. In addition, he is also a member of the Editorial Committee of ALFAL's journal Lingüística and of other editorial boards of scientific publications in Israel, Argentina, Mexico, Chile and the United States. Among the recognitions he has received we can mention in 1988 the Nicolás León Annual Award for linguistic research, the Yucatán Medal awarded by the government of the state of Yucatán (1999), the Eligio Ancona Medal from the University of Yucatán (2000), and was recognized by the Valladolid mayor's office (2002) and named outstanding citizen of the city of Merida (2004).

He is a member of numerous academic and scientific associations and editorial committees of highly regarded scientific journals in Mexico and abroad. Arzápalo is a member of many panels and evaluation committees and on the editorial boards of outstanding journals in linguistics, anthropology and Latin American studies. At present he is a senior researcher at the Institute of Anthropological Research-UNAM and tutor in the graduate program in anthropology (M.A., Ph.D. and post–graduate level).

Media Contact: Carolyn Gonzales (505) 277-5920; email: cgonzal@unm.edu