HAR is pleased to announce a recent release from BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology: an article (in French and English) about the life and work of Laurette Séjourné.
Merkel, Ian William, 2022. “Art, Archaeology and Socialism: The Life and Work of Laurette Séjourné, Interpreter of Mesoamerica”, in BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology, Paris.
This article examines the life and work of Laurette Séjourné (1914–2003), archaeologist and anthropologist of Mexico. As the first of its kind in any language, the article written by Ian William Merkel provides a biographical portrait, covering Séjourné’s early career as a film editor and her archaeological work in Mexico with the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (National Institute of Anthropology and History). It introduces Séjourné’s field-based monographs on Teotihuacan and Quetzalcoatl, her broader synthetic works such as Pensamiento y religión en el México antiguo, and her more politically engaged writings during the early years of Cuban socialism. Despite occupying a somewhat controversial role as a cultural interpreter at a time in which the discipline of archaeology became much more professionalized and scientific, Séjourné influenced scholars such as Miguel León-Portilla through her studies on religion and Teotihuacan. The article concludes by examining some of these controversies in light of the challenges that Séjourné faced as a woman and a foreigner in earning recognition for her work.