Ruud van Akkeren is a Dutch anthropologist who specializes in the ancient indigenous documents of Guatemala, for which he learned several Maya languages. He did his PhD on the Maya dance-drama text Rabinal Achi at Leiden University (2000). He has been living over twenty five years in the Maya Highlands, currently in Cobán, Alta Verapaz. He is a research-associate of the Universidad del Valle, and in 2016 was a Tinker-LLILAS visiting professor at the University of Texas, at Austin.
In addition to his own research in the Maya area, he works in educational projects sharing his knowledge with local teachers, university students, local NGO officials, indigenous priests, many of them Maya. He advised the Guatemalan Ministry of Sports and Culture when submitting the Rabinal Achi to the category of Intangible Heritage to Humanity at UNESCO. In 2005 this dance-drama received that status.
He has published over fifty articles, and his books include Place of the Lord's Daughter - Rabinal, its history, its dance-drama (2000) Ixil, lugar del jaguar (2005); La visión indígena de la conquista (2007); Xib’alb’a y el nacimiento del nuevo sol – La visión posclásica del colapso maya (2012; Cerro de Maguey – Tierra donde nació el tiempo. Un estudio etnohistórico de Kaminal Juyu, capital del pueblo poq’om (to be published in 2018). He also has written a historical thriller called La Danza del Tambor, set in Rabinal twenty years after the conquest.