December 5, 1924–December 17, 2016
Ruben E. Reina passed away at his home in Dunwoody Village, Newtown Square, PA on December 17, 2016.
Reina is most widely known for his contributions to the study of the culture and peoples of Guatemala. His research interests included the study of cultural change; ethnographic and ethnohistorical studies; contemporary and traditional Maya Indians; and modern Latin American peoples, peasants, and urban communities. Reina undertook extensive fieldwork in Guatemala, Argentina, Spain, and Puerto Rico. He also pursued additional field activities in Mexico, Brazil, Guyana, Turkey, Iran, Morocco, Alaska, the Southwestern US, Peru, Bolivia, and Scotland.
Reina was born in Huinca Renenco, Cordoba Province, Argentina on December 5, 1924, the oldest of four children. After graduating from a Bachiller in Argentina (1945–1947), and briefly studying geology at the Universidad de Cordoba (1947), Reina emigrated to the US in 1947and began studies at the University of Michigan.
Reina married Betty Ruth Burton in 1951, having met at the University of Michigan. He earned his BA in sociology and anthropology from the University of Michigan in 1950, and an MA in sociology and anthropology from Michigan State University in 1951. He followed these achievements in 1957 with a PhD from the University of North Carolina—the first person to graduate from that university with a PhD in anthropology.
In 1957 Reina was appointed to an assistant professorship in the department of anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania and to an assistant curatorship at the University Museum.
During this time, Reina began his association with the Hispanic-Latin American Research Project. The project began in 1967 and sought to compile source material from distant Spanish and Latin American archival and manuscript repositories and make them more easily available. Reina served as director of the project, which lasted the better part of 20 years.
Reina taught at the university until 1990, when he achieved emeritus status, both as a professor and curator. He received grants from the Ford Foundation, The National Science Foundation, and the American Philosophical Society where his archives “The Reina Papers” are maintained and made available for scholarly advancement.
Reina directed several exhibitions including: “The Traditional Textiles of the Mayan People of Guatemala” (1971); “The Traditional Potters of Guatemala” (with Robert Hill) (1978); and, “The Gift of Birds: Featherwork of Native South American Peoples” (1991).
During his tenure at Penn, Reina served as chairman of the undergraduate program in anthropology (1960–1966); chairman of the department of anthropology (1971–1976); and curator of the Loren Eiseley seminar and library (1982–1984).
Reina’s major publications include: Chinautla, A Guatemalan Indian Community: A Study in the Relationship of Community Culture and National
Change (1960); Entrepreneurship in Argentine Culture (with Thomas Cochran) (1962); The Law of the Saints: A Pokomam Pueblo and Its Community Culture (1967); Parana: Social Boundaries in an Argentine City (1973); The Traditional Pottery of Guatemala (with Robert Hill) (1978); and, Shadows: A Mayan Way of Knowing (1984).
Reina was also an accomplished artist and enjoyed sailing the waters of the Chesapeake, playing the piano, and traveling.
He is survived by Betty Reina, his wife of 65 years; sons Mark, Randy, and Roger; and grandchildren Jeanine Reina, Kathleen Reina, David Reina, and Lindsey Reina.
A Celebration of Life Service is being planned for Sunday February 19 at 4PM at Dunwoody Village, 3500 West Chester Pike, Newtown Square, PA. (Roger Reina, Mark Reina, and Randy Reina)