This admirable book does three things that are especially worthy of note: It provides us with a longitudinal perspective. . . . a remarkably explicit and well-considered approach to the ethnography of belief. . . . [and]Hinshaw puts his study of Panajachel in a regional perspective. . . . In sum, this book is an unusual and important contribution to Middle American ethnography, and it will be read with profit by anyone interested in Indian populations in that area.
Building on Sol Tax's pioneering work of the economic organization of Panajachel in the 1930s, Hinshaw describes this Guatemalan village and analyzes the differences among Indians in other villages responding to environmental, social, and economic changes in the next quarter century. This book offers a unique examination of belief patterns and social relations, and the continuity and change in the society's worldview.
The chief virtues of this book are that it is a continuation study; that it deals with an interesting problem which is in miniature a universal one, that is the relations between population, development, and their implications; and that the data are handled with extreme care, precision, and openness.
Panajachel is located on Lake Atitlan, probably the most exquisite mountain lake in the world. Because of its setting, there has been an inundation of tourists and a boom of chalet construction. . . . While emphasizing the expanding economic base to explain continuity and change, Hinshaw also brings in other variables such as Protestantism, educational level, and military service. . . . There is much to praise: usefulness to culture change theory and Guatemalan literature and the infinite care in methodology.