Foundation Award for Research

John Chuchiak

John Chuchiak

Reynolds College of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities

I. Focus of Research

My credentials, numerous international awards, and research affiliations all testify to my international reputation as a leading Global scholar of both Maya Culture and the history of the Mexican Inquisition, as well as my status as a recognized scholar in general of the history of Spanish Conquest & Colonization and its impact on Mesoamerica’s indigenous peoples.

My scholarship focuses on understanding mechanisms of both religious repression and cultural resistance to European colonization by the New World’s Indigenous Peoples. This task requires intensive archival research in dozens of international archives in Mexico, Spain, Germany, and the U.S.

The methodology of my research focuses on the uncovering and analysis of unknown or little utilized historical primary sources, in combination with an interdisciplinary focus on the use of methods, literature and materials from other allied fields such as Anthropology, Epigraphy, Linguistics and Archaeology. The goal is the intensive review, processing, and analysis of primary source documentation in Spanish, German and Yucatec Maya (languages in which I am fluent) as well as sources and materials in the Nahuatl (Aztec) and Latin languages for which I am certified for reading comprehension. I similarly also research and read in four other European languages.

II. Major Projects


(Major publications since last application for a Foundation Research Award in 2009)
* (Denotes research published in rank as Distinguished Professor, 2020-2023)


* Chuchiak, J.F., (2023) The Friar and the Maya: Diego de Landa and the Account of the Things of Yucatan. (Coauthored with Matthew Restall, Amara Solari, and Traci Ardren), University Press of Colorado, (2023), (475 pp.)

*Chuchiak, J.F., (2022) El castigo y la reprensión: el juzgado del Provisorato de Indios y la extirpación de la idolatría maya en el obispado de Yucatán, 1563-1763, co-edition of the Instituto de Investigaciones Jurídicas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and Universidad Anahuac Xalapa, (2022), (650 pp.)

Chuchiak, J.F., and Luis René Guerrero Galván, (2018). Edictos de Fe del Santo Oficio de la Inquisición de la Nueva España: Estudio Preliminar y un Corpus en Facsímile (Mexico City: Instituto de Investigaciones Jurídicas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México), (728 pp.).

Chuchiak, J.F., and Luis René Guerrero Galván, (2017). Archivo Digital de los Edictos de Fe del Santo Oficio de la Inquisición de la Nueva España en DVD (Mexico City: Instituto de Investigaciones Jurídicas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México), Interactive DVD with collection of more than 538 Inquisitorial edicts.

Chuchiak, J. F. (2012). The Inquisition in New Spain, 1536-1819, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012, (464 pp.)

Chuchiak, J. F. (2009) (with Antje Gunsenheimer and Tsubasa Okoshi Harada) Text and Context: Analyzing Colonial Yucatec Maya Texts and Literature in Diachronic Perspective, Bonner Amerikanistische Studien, Institut für Altamerikanistik und Ethnologie, Universität Bonn, Germany, 2009

Textbooks/Workshop Research Manuals

*Chuchiak, J. F., Kettunen, H. (2022). Mapping the Maya Region: Explorations in the Sources on the Cartography and Cultural Geography of the Pre-Contact and Colonial Maya, Krakow: European Association of Mayanists (Wayeb); Institute of Archaeology, Jagiellonian University; Polish Society for Latin American Studies. (pp. 228 pages).

*Chuchiak IV, John F., Guido Krempel, and Sofia Paredes Maury (2020) Guía de la Exhibición: Las imágenes de los dioses mayas en el siglo XVI: El encuentro de dos mundos. Guatemala City: Hunal Publishers/Litografía Color Press, 2020.

*Chuchiak, J. F. (2020). Introducción a la Paleografía del Reino de Guatemala, Siglos XVI-XVIII (pp. 175 pp.). Antigua: Ministerio de Cultura de España, CIRMA, Fundación la Ruta Maya.

*Chuchiak, J. F. (2020). La documentación de los provisoratos de indios en la región maya (pp. 125 pp.). Antigua: Ministerio de Cultura de España, CIRMA, Fundación la Ruta Maya.

Chuchiak, J.F., (2017) Paleography of Colonial Documents: Working with Spanish and Maya Language Colonial Documentation, Wayeb: European Maya Studies Association, Curricular Materials and Resources, Malmö, Sweden, (300pp.)

Chuchiak, J. F. (with Walther Kirchner) History of Western Civilization to 1500, Harper Collins Publishers, College Series, 2006.

Selected Refereed Journal Articles

* (Denotes research published in rank as Distinguished Professor, 2020–2023)

*Chuchiak, J.F. (2022), “Éxitos efímeros: el Provisorato de Indios en el Obispado de Guatemala y la extirpación de idolatrías, 1540-1650,” in Anales de la Academia de Geografía e Historia de Guatemala, Volume XCV (2022), pp. 157-252. (96 pages)

*Chuchiak, J. F. and Harri Kettunen (University of Helsinki) (2022). “Que los indios de Yucatán merecen que el rey les favoresca” – A New Understanding of the Structure, Composition, and Copyists of Diego de Landa’s Relación de las cosas de Yucatán,” in The Mayanist, Volume 4 (2022), Number 1, pp. 25-50. (25 pages)

*Chuchiak, J.F. (2021) (with Antonio Rodríguez Alcalá, Hans B. Erickson, Pierlorenzo Ballicu), “The Great “Auto de Fe” at Santiago de los Caballeros, or How to Achieve Historical Empathy with Cultural Heritage Through Virtual Reality,” in The International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences, Vol. XLVI-M-1-2021, pp. 633 – 640 (

*Chuchiak, J.F. (2021) (with Antonio Rodríguez Alcalá, Hans B. Erickson, Pierlorenzo Ballicu) “Preserving Cultural Heritage with VR Simulations: Bishop Francisco Marroquín’s 1554 Auto de fe in Santiago de los Caballeros,” 41–46, 64,” in Mexicon: Journal of Mesoamerican Studies, Vol. XLIII (June 2021), No 3, pp. 41-46, & 41 & 64 (Cover images).

*Chuchiak, J. F. (2020). "Corruption and Careerism in New Spain: Don Alonso de Peralta y Robles, Creole Inquisitor, 1594-1610." published in Colonial Latin American Review, Vol. 29, No. 2, (September, 2020), pp. 376-397.

Selected Refereed Book Chapters and Articles

* (Denotes research published in rank as Distinguished Professor, 2020-2023)

*Chuchiak, J. F. (2023). "Denying the Rights of ‘Natural Lords’: Maya Struggles for Rewards and Recognition in Colonial Yucatan, 1550–1750". In Patricia McAnany and Marilyn Masson (Ed.), Faces of Rulership in the Maya Region, Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks Pre-Columbian Studies, Harvard University Press. (In press, pp. 36 pages).

*Chuchiak, J. F. (2023). "Inconvenient Voices in the Archives: Indios de Campana, Indios Idólatras and the Maya Dilemma of the Spanish Concept of the “Pagan Frontier” 1565-1700". In Robert Schwaller and Dana Murillo (Ed.), Ethnohistory of Colonial Frontiers, Vol. 3 Routledge Research in New Colonial Histories of Latin America Series, London: Routledge, Taylor and Francis, (In press, 46 pages).

*Chuchiak, J. F. (2023). "Entre la cooperación y la usurpación. La Orden Franciscana y la jurisdicción eclesiástica sobre la extirpación de la idolatría maya en Yucatán, 1570-1650". In Gerardo Lara Cisneros and Roberto Martínez González (Ed.), El ídolo y las hogueras. Idolatría y evangelización en América virreinal, siglos XVI-XVIII. Mexico City, México: Instituto de Investigaciones Históricas, UNAM, pp. 123-149.

*Chuchiak, J. F. (2023). “Contextualizing the Codex Dresden: The Colonial Confiscation of Maya Hieroglyphic Books and the Plausible Provenience of the Dresden Codex,” In Nikolai Grube (Ed.), New Perspectives on the Dresden Codex: Understanding a Pre-Hispanic Maya Book. Bonn: Abteilung für Altamerikanistik und Ethnologie, Universität Bonn, 5-39. (Forthcoming, 2023).

*Chuchiak, J. F. and Justin Duncan (2022). “Theatres and Spaces of Power in Ephemeral Architecture: The Autos de fe of the Inquisition and the Visual, Spatial and Physical Representation of Inquisitorial Power, 1481-1736.” In El patrimonio: vehículo de la memoria remota y reciente, Antonio Rodríguez Alcalá (ed.). Mérida, Yucatán, México: Editorial del Universidad del Mayab, 2022, pp. 50-78. (ISBN 978-607-8083-32-9)

Selected International Conference Presentations

* (Denotes all-expenses paid international keynote addresses since promotion to Distinguished Professor in 2020)

*International Keynote Speech: Chuchiak, J. F., Kettunen, H., 27th European Maya Conference, "Mapping the mundo maya: The History of the Cartography of the Yucatan Peninsula," European Association of Mayanists (Wayeb), Institute of Archaeology, Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland. (November 28, 2022).

*Invited International Presentation: Chuchiak, J. F., 27th European Maya Conference, "The Hills are of Live Rock, Dry and Waterless”: Early Cartographic Encounters of Spanish Explorers and Conquistadors with the terrain of the Yucatan Peninsula, 1511-1600," European Association of Mayanists (Wayeb); Institute of Archaeology, Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland. (December 2, 2022).

*International Keynote Speech: Chuchiak, J. F., Kettunen, H., 10th Bratislava Maya Meeting: Origins, "The Mysteries of Landa’s Relación Resolved: Unraveling the Remaining Questions of the Origins of the most important manuscript for Maya Studies," Bratislava, Slovakia. (May 26, 2022).

Selected Other International Research Presentations

* (Other International Research Presentations since Distinguished Professor appointment in 2020)

International Conference Paper: Chuchiak, J. F., Raimúndez Ares, Z., Bosque Cantón, C., Pérez Lugones, L., VIII Congreso Internacional Códices del Centro de México, October 25-28, "“Estudio preliminar de una de las tiras de tributos desconocida de la colección Gilcrease”," Facultad de Geografía e Historia, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Madrid, Spain. (October 26, 2022).

International Lecture: Chuchiak, J. F., Conversatorios de Cultura Maya, "Resistencia, rebelión y negociación en la época colonial," Instituto Nacional de Antropologia e Historia, Mexico City, México. (October 13, 2022).

International Lecture: Chuchiak, J. F., Seminar on Biography and Life Writing: Research Group C Working Research Group, "Researching Colonial Lives: The Document Genre of the "Relaciones de Méritos y Servicios", Research Cluster C: Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies (BCDSS), University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany. (September 6, 2022).

III. Future Directions of Research

Over the years, the scope of my research has expanded, as have the research methodologies I have employed. My first publications before arriving at MSU were in the fields of the study of religious conversion and colonial resistance in Spanish America. In addition to producing this new research on colonial Maya/Spanish relations, I challenged myself since my arrival at MSU to expand my expertise beyond the study of religious conversion and resistance to include new historical research on the role of the Maya in the colonial economy and colonial military history.

I have also begun a new line of research and publication while at MSU into the study of Maya sexuality and gender studies. Meanwhile, I have similarly branched out methodologically into wider interdisciplinary research into Maya linguistics and anthropology, enriching my own historical interpretations of the role of indigenous Maya agency in the colonial experience.

Along with continuing my current research on colonial Maya religion, culture, and gender, I have also begun several new research projects. The first project focuses on the role of native Maya militias in the war against European Piracy in the New World. The book manuscript for this project is currently under contract with University Press of Colorado (Unlikely Allies: Mayas, Spaniards and Pirates in Colonial Yucatán, 1550-1750, University Press of Colorado).

Plans for further Dissemination of Research: A perusal of my CV and publications reveals that to date almost all my many research paper presentations have eventually ended up as peer-reviewed publications in one form or another. Each academic paper that ends up being presented and published reflects oftentimes years of work in conducting archival research in distant archives and libraries, to the conceptualization and writing of these pieces. In my field, publications correlate with, but do not directly reflect investment in research activities. For every research paper I have published, I have conducted more research than that included in the various manuscripts. This fact has enabled me to remain very active as a scholar and publisher of academic peer-reviewed work as one project or research piece often leads to the later expansion of the project or the use of the results for other presentations, manuscripts, and similar publications.

A Commitment to Engage in Research Collaborations. My professional activities to date have included collaborations with many other scholars on an international level. I continue to enjoy a productive academic relationship with several colleagues in Mexico, Spain, Germany, and the Slovak Republic which have all lead to numerous collaborative projects and peer-reviewed publications.

Recognition of my Leading Role as an International Scholar: One of my strengths as a scholar, especially one who teaches in a public state level university with a graduate program in history, is that I have many interests and have worked on a wide range of topics within my greater research focus on Colonial Latin American History. My multiple interests and research focus has enabled me to serve broadly as a very active mentor to both undergraduate and graduate student research. In addition, the research problems, and archival materials I have explored have been quite varied and they tend to involve the sort of analysis that requires the consideration of multiple types of evidence, and an interdisciplinary approach.

My interest in historiography, especially the way in which an historian weaves together information to create a compelling narrative, has led me in many cases to examine closely how colonial writers, both Spaniards and Mayas, made sense of the important nature of inter-cultural conflict and violence related to the wider context of Spanish Conquest and Colonization. My interest in linguistics, and rescuing, editing, and analyzing ancient texts in both Spanish and Yucatec Maya, flows out of the emphasis on philology (the intensive analytical study of documents) in my discipline, which has led me to investigate the ways in which both the Spaniards and Mayas crafted documentary means of both alternatively interacting, resisting and accommodating to the conflicting nature of a multi-ethnic colonial society.

IV. Topics related to your research and of interest to the broad University Community, for which you are available for presentations and/or consultations.

I am available to speak on any number of topics related to Mesoamerican (Aztec, Maya, etc) cultures and religions, as well as presentations on general Latin American or Hispanic topics.

Specific topics on which I am available to make public presentations include: History of Mexico & Mexican-American topics, presentations on Maya culture, talks on any aspect of Colonial Latin American History.

In terms of research in the digital humanities, I am also interested in presenting topics related to this new and dynamic field of applied research.

  • Selected topics for these types of presentations would include:
  • The Potentials of Digital Simulations in the field of History
  • Strategies for the Creation of Digital Projects for the Humanities
  • Using historical simulations and games in intensive research undergraduate courses
  • Mentoring Active Undergraduate Research
  • Creation of research tools in the digital humanities.