The Cycle of the Living Dead: Ruins, Loss, and Preservation in Tihosuco, Quintana Roo

Author(s): Kasey Diserens

Year: 2017


Why does the threat of loss strike fear into our hearts as heritage professionals and archaeologists? Why do we not understand the loss of cultural practices as part and parcel of being human, and accept that loss is not the opposite of heritage, but in fact and integral part of it? We need to transform the discourse surrounding loss, embracing it as an integral part of culture rather than avoiding it.

This paper will demonstrate how such threats impact the decision making processes surrounding historic structures and ruins in Tihosuco, Quintana Roo. It seeks to challenge the prevailing notion in the heritage preservation field that our work necessitates freezing the past in perpetuity at a given point, or only allows for sanctioned changes. This fear of loss and failure to allow for adaptation can create a cycle of ‘living dead’ within heritage assets: aging architectural and archaeological resources that are not being used to their full potential, or are left to deteriorate with no thought to their present or future value. In order to break this cycle, we need a people-centered heritage preservation-one that adapts our methods to engage with the past and plan for the future.

Cite this Record

The Cycle of the Living Dead: Ruins, Loss, and Preservation in Tihosuco, Quintana Roo. Kasey Diserens. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431980)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -107.271; min lat: 12.383 ; max long: -86.353; max lat: 23.08 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16951