Associate Professor of Anthropology Eleanor Harrison-Buck won the 2015 Gordon R. Willey Award for her article “Architecture as Animate Landscape: Circular Shrines in the Ancient Maya Lowlands” published in American Anthropologist 114(1):64-80. The award recognizes the best archaeology paper published in American Anthropologist over the last three years. The winning paper is selected by the Archaeology Division of the American Anthropological Association based on archaeological research that intersects with topics of broad anthropological interest. Harrison-Buck received the award at the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association in Denver, Colorado, in late November.
In the winning article, Harrison-Buck examines the distribution of marine shells and cave formations that appear incorporated as architectural elements on ancient Maya circular shrine architecture. More than just “symbols” of sacred geography, she argues that these materials represent living entities that animate shrine buildings through their ongoing relationships with human and other-than-human agents in the world. Her work incorporates archaeology, ethnographic comparison and indigenous theory to gain a deeper understanding of Maya perspectives of landscape and sacred geography.