In December 2012, Finland has the honor of hosting the first international Maya conference in the history of this country. The summit coincides with an exhibition on ancient Maya artifacts at the Didrichsen Art Museum in Helsinki. The upcoming conference and exhibition of ancient Maya artifacts is the northernmost forum of its kind ever organized in the world.
This international congress, the 17th European Maya Conference, is the most prominent summit in the field in Europe and one of the biggest any, worldwide. It will bring experts, amateurs, and aficionados from all walks of life to Helsinki for the last full week of the end of the 13th baktun in the Maya calendar, ending on the 21st of December 2012.
The hosting institution of the conference is the Department of World Cultures of the University of Helsinki in co-operation with the European Association of Mayanists (Wayeb), while the main organizer of the event is Dr. Harri Kettunen (Latin American Studies, Department of World Cultures), in co-operation with students and staff of the University of Helsinki, the Didrichsen Art Museum, and the Finland–Mexico-Association.
The conference is initiated by workshops (December 9th-12th), followed by a day off between the workshops and the symposium (December 13th, with extracurricular activities including a visit to the Maya III exhibition at the Didrichsen Art Museum in Helsinki), and finally a two-day long symposium on December 14th-15th.
The theme of the conference differs from the previous forums considerably, concentrating on the processes of scientific investigation, rather than just on the end results of research. The preliminary title of the conference is: On Methods: How we know what we think we know about the Maya. Consequently, the organizers are particularly interested in papers that are problem-based and that deal with methodological issues, challenges of multi- and interdisciplinary research, questions that rise in the liminal area between disciplines, as well as experimental and cutting-edge disciplinary research. Although the focus of the conference is on the ancient Maya, the organizers are welcoming topics that cover all time periods, including the present, as there is, naturally, a link between the modern and the ancient Maya.
The common thread in the conference is that people from different branches of learning would expose the processes and methods of their work – rather than merely the outcome of research. This would be, without doubt, beneficial for students and scholars a (and even for people coming from totally different fields altogether). Although multi- and interdisciplinary research seems to be the market leader of modern academic world today, we rarely question and examine the processes used in these studies. Consequently, what the organizers would to see in the conference is that people from different disciplines discuss the processes involved in their studies (whether they are disciplinary or interdisciplinary) and expose these to the audience for further discussion.
As part of this conference the organizers have created four thematic categories (these will correspond to the morning and afternoon sessions of the two-day symposium) with the following headings: (1) archaeology and history; (2) epigraphy; (3) ethnology and linguistics; and (4) theoretical and interdisciplinary topics. Naturally most of research and, consequently, most of the forthcoming papers, are multi- or interdisciplinary by nature. Therefore, the thematic grouping is to be understood merely as a suggestive guideline.
The conference will present the most preeminent scholars of the field in the world, including Michael Coe, Arthur Demarest, Elizabeth Graham, Nikolai Grube, Alfonso Lacadena, Simon Martin, David Stuart, and Marc Zender. Besides the symposium part of the conference, the summit will also introduce a four-day line-up of workshops on various topics, including Maya hieroglyphs, Maya mythol