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Mixtec Living Community and Cultural Heritage


Admission requirements

BA degree (or equivalent) in Archaeology or another relevant discipline.


Introduction to the cultural heritage, living traditions and socio-political reality of present-day native peoples of the Americas, by the exemplary analysis of worldview, mentality and society of the Mixtec people (Ñuu Sau or Ñuu Dzaui) in Southern Mexico. A crash course of the Mixtec language (Sahin Sau) is combined with a discussion of anthropological practice and a preparation of ethno-archaeological or ethnographic fieldwork. This course is connected with the department’s NWO-funded fieldwork project that aims at the documentation of the Mixtec cultural vocabulary, oral literature, customs and worldview.

At the same time this seminar prepares for possible participation in (1) the archaeological project (survey and in the future also excavations) carried out in the area of the Mixtec town of Chalcatongo by the Oaxacan regional centre of the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (under direction of archaeologist Enrique Fernández Dávila), and (2) the large cultural heritage project ‘Cultura Mixteca, Ruta de los Dominicos” of the Government of the State of Oaxaca.

Learning objectives

  • Familiarization with contemporary Mixtec culture through its language, customs and concepts, as exemplary exercise in understanding of Native American society and worldview;

  • Knowledge of ethnographic work (and ability to critically review this practice), as a preparation for ethno-archaeological or ethnographic fieldwork.

Method of instruction

Seminar (guided by a native speaker) with language study, collective translation and analysis of texts, conversation practice and comments on key concepts and traditional worldview. Analytical reading of registered oral traditions and discussion of archaeological, historical and cultural anthropological studies.


Several written and oral tests on the progress in mastering the basics of the Mixtec language, with assignments to analyze oral traditions and archaeological, historical and/or cultural anthropological studies (blackboard and discussion in class).
Optional extension: This class may be expanded with ethnographic / linguistic fieldwork of one month in the Mixtec region, State of Oaxaca, Mexico (5 extra ects).


  • G.A. Pérez Jiménez: Sàhin Sàu. Curso de lengua mixteca (variante de Ñuù Ndéyá) con notas históricas y culturales. Colegio Superior para la Educación Integral Intercultural de Oaxaca, Oaxaca, 2008,

  • A. Dyk, Mixteco Texts. Summer Institute of Linguistics, Norman, 1959 (accessible through internet).

  • J. Monaghan, The Covenants with Earth and Rain. Exchange, sacrifice, and revelation in Mixtec sociality. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, 1995.

  • M.E.R.G.N. Jansen& L.N.K. van Broekhoven (eds.): Mixtec Writing and Society / Escritura de Ñuu Dzaui. KNAW Press, Amsterdam, 2008.