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What is an ajq’ij?

So what is an ajq’ij? This question is harder to answer than it may seem. As explained, it eventually became the main question for this project, and I spent four months in Guatemala trying to answer it. Of course, there will be many ways to try to answer such a broad question, so I decided to try to answer it by focusing on two main themes: Working as an ajq’ij and Becoming an ajq’ij. For each of these themes, I wanted to ask the questions why and how.

I then ended up with four questions:

  • 1. Why does an ajq’ij do her or his work?
  • 2. How does an ajq’ij do her or his work?
  • 3. Why does one become an ajq’ij?
  • 4. How does one become an ajq’ij?

Through these four questions,[1] and the answers that I would collect, I hoped to have a better grasp of what an ajq’ij is. It is important to remember that these answers will of course not be representative of all the Maya, nor all ajq’ijab, but reflect the opinions of the interviewees I talked to. In addition, it should be emphasised that I have mainly focused on what the ajq’ijab think themselves, and so the answers do not show what non-ajq’ijab might think an ajq’ij is.

Furthermore, there may be many answers to one question. Indeed, I found several answers myself through my interviews - so maybe it would be better to ask what an ajq’ij can be rather than what an ajq’ij is.

I will present the views of nine persons, most of them ajq’ijab, from the Quet- zaltenango area in the Western highlands of Guatemala. I hope to show what these individuals do and why they themselves find it important to do it. I hope to show how they became ajq’ijab, and why they themselves think they did. And I think that the answers I got can help explain what an ajq’ij is, or at least what an ajq’ij can be, in certain areas of Guatemala’s wide and varied cultural landscape.

In Part I, I present some general background information and the methods I have used to conduct this project.

In Part II, I will present my findings. I have tried to let my interviewees express themselves as much as possible through direct, albeit translated, quotations. The chapters are divided up with the research questions in mind.

Finally, in Part III, I will present my own analyses of certain key aspects of my findings. These analyses show how the questions I raised in the introduction may be answered from a researcher’s point of view.

  • [1] Wide questions such as these are meant as general themes, and will also help answerother questions. I believe, for instance, that the answers to question 1 and 2 also willdemonstrate what the work of an ajq’ij can be, while 3 and 4 will highlight who canbecome ajq’ijab.
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