Taking dreams seriously: an ontological-phenomenological approach to Tzotzil Maya dream culture

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter explores Tzotzil Maya ethnotheories of the person and the dreamspace, laying the groundwork for a more nuanced understanding of the relationship between oneiric experience and waking life. It provides an overview of the integration of dream experience into everyday life and focuses on the importance of dreams in the experience of illness, the process of diagnosis and curing, and the transmission of esoteric knowledge and divine power. However, since they have not had the requisite investiture dreams, these people lack the divine authorization to use them-they could pray, but their prayers would have no efficacy. Rather than signaling an erosion or degradation of traditional investiture dreams, these novel dream objects have been appropriated-somewhat paradoxically-in support of the markedly traditional, explicitly prosocial, and distinctly Mayan vocational practice of shamanic curing.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNew directions in the anthropology of dreaming
EditorsJeannette Mageo, Robin E. Sheriff
Place of PublicationLondon ; New York
PublisherRoutledge, Taylor and Francis Group
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)9781003037330
ISBN (Print)9780367479336, 9780367479343
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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