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"The locality principle is key:
local bioniches, local
ecologies, interdependently
and inextricably linked
to local cultures."

Why is Chocolá so Important?
Globalism and the Locality Principle

Worldwide, the ecology that humankind desires or requires for sustenance and happiness is currently under enormous stress. Most scientists agree that global warming from use of fossil fuels and of other substances has caused irreversible changes; ninety percent of the ocean’s big fish are gone; destruction of the planet’s last great natural preserve, the Amazon rainforest, has accelerated.

Homogenization of the world’s resources—brought about by the conversion of entire parts of nations or continents to a single or a few industries and the unchecked extraction of natural resources—is the inevitable outcome of the great economic processes behind globalization. While the global economy, whose agents largely are multinational corporations, continues to “grow wealth,” the cost vs gain in terms of quality of life is tipping or will tip soon, perhaps drastically, toward the former (see Daly 2005 “Economics in a Full World,” Scientific American 293(3):100-107).

The only viable strategy is the protection of biological diversity. As June Nash, a distinguished Maya ethnographer, observes in her 2002 volume, Mayan Visions, the best means of protecting biological diversity is protection and encouragement of cultural diversity, since local cultures know best how to non-extractively exploit natural resources. Accordingly, salvation of the contemporary community of Chocolá is important not only for the archaeological research. Not merely symbolically but in the most practical fashion possible, saving the modern community and residents of Chocolá from extinction, and other communities like it, is the only solution to the problems of environmental destruction that threaten everyone on the planet.

The “locality” principle is key: local bioniches, local ecologies, interdependently and inextricably are linked to local cultures. The homogenization of vast parts of the planet for globally strategized market consumption already has produced global warming, and the catastrophic alteration of enormous areas both marine and land-based. Nash emphasizes that without sustainable development that preserves local cultures, biological diversity will continue disappearing and human life itself, so dependent on a delicate and symbiotic web of natural resources, will be at severe risk.

Community archaeology, a new paradigm in social science, is not just a theoretical idea but a practical necessity for the Proyecto Arqueológico Chocolá. Archaeologists must negotiate with the K'iché community daily over land, jobs in the community, and the future of the project. At the same time, archaeologists and the community are creating a dynamic dialogue of Maya history, and the project is working actively to help the townspeople find alternative and sustainable development enterprises, including cultivation of cacao for niche markets, marketed from the “ancient Maya cacao heartland.”


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