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Extra info for Converting Words: Maya in the Age of the Cross (The Anthropology of Christianity)
By combining conviction with repentance, conversión designates a voluntary turning away from past and current ways, to take on different, better ways. It must be kept in mind that while force was in fact liberally used in the conquista pacífica, its defining features were persuasion, habituation, and discipline. In reference to social space, conversión designates transformation from one state into another (a usage attested in early modern Spanish; see Covarrubias 1995 , 350). In Yucatán this bore primarily on the northwestern region of the peninsula, where the resettlement was concentrated and most of the missions were established.
13 Chuchiak (2000b) details the involvement of bishops (of whom a number were prominent Franciscans), the cabildo eclesiástico (advisory to the bishop), and secular vicars in the discovery and extirpation of idolatry through the first century and a half. Several of the individuals who figure prominently in Introduction 9 subsequent chapters of this book played key roles in the extirpations, including Bishops Toral, Landa, Montalvo, Salazar, and Sánchez de Aguilar, the secular dean at the head of the cabildo eclesiástico and the author of a famous informe ‘report’ on Maya idolatry.
Together these make up what is widely considered a native corpus, and there is broad agreement among Mayanists that at least parts of these texts derive from preconquest Maya discourse, probably transliterated from lost hieroglyphic tracts. From my perspective, what is most important is not that they speak a pure native voice, 20 Introduction which they do not, but that they were forbidden, authored by, and directed to Indios. Whatever the status of this claim, there is ample evidence that the Maya appropriated Spanish-based writing for their own purposes.