UNH Anthropologist Receives Fellowship to Establish Museum in Belize

March 3, 2017

photo of Eleanor Harrison-Buck

Eleanor Harrison-Buck, an associate professor of anthropology at UNH, has been awarded a $50,000 Whiting Public Engagement Fellowship to establish a public history museum in Belize that focuses on the Kriol (Creole) community.

More than a third of the population of Belize is part of the Kriol community descended from enslaved Africans brought to the country by Europeans in the 18th and 19th century.

“The legacy of British colonialism in Belize is strong: national school curricula, offerings at the national museum and a booming tourism market all tend to focus on the ancient Maya and colonial periods with little emphasis on the rich history and culture of the Kriol,” said Harrison-Buck. “I’ve conducted archaeological research in Belize for more than 25 years and helped to establish a temporary exhibit on Kriol culture last summer. It’s time there is a permanent record of this community.”

Harrison-Buck will work in collaboration with Kriol community leaders, educators, and local and regional authorities. The new museum, housed in a building donated by the town of Crooked Tree, will include local oral histories, artifacts, images and stories to present the culture to tourists, teachers and students.

Her research focuses on the classic Maya “collapse” period and subsequent Spanish and British colonial periods in Belize. Since 2009 she has directed the Belize River East Archaeology project, examining the history of the eastern watershed from preclassic to colonial times. Through her work she uncovered the history of the Kriol culture and heritage.

The Whiting Public Engagement Fellowship celebrates and supports faculty in the humanities who embrace public engagement as part of the scholarly vocation. She will receive a year-long leave to pursue this public-facing project and has secured external funding from the Alphawood Foundation of Chicago to help support the project costs. Harrison-Buck was one of eight humanities scholars around the country to receive the fellowship. The goal of every Whiting-funded project is to engage a public audience in the richness of the humanities.

Harrison-Buck was also awarded a UNH Center for the Humanities Publicly Engaged Humanities Fellowship for this project.

Source: Release by Erika Mantz, UNH Newsroom


Professor Harrison-Buck’s Paper Recognized by American Anthropological Association

December 1, 2015

photo of Eleanor Harrison-Buck

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.


My Mayan Valentine: Anthropologist Examines the Roots of Chocolate in Mesoamerica

February 13, 2015

cacao bean heart
In a Smithsonian Magazine article published this month, associate professor of anthropology Eleanor Harrison-Buck discusses her current research on cacao and the ancient Maya, a project she is working on with Serita Frey, a UNH soil scientist in the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment.

A Spanish account from 1618 describes the Belize River town of Lucu: “[It had] much thick cacao that turns reddish-brown and tastes good by itself.” Harrison-Buck contends that cacao was a staple in ritual feasts for many Mesoamerican cultures for thousands of years and is thus particularly important to study and understand. But because the remains of this crop do not preserve well in soil, archaeologists know little about the ancient methods of cacao bean production. Harrison-Buck and Frey are working in Belize and elsewhere, collecting soil samples and analyzing them to see if cacao orchards leave a distinct biological footprint. Eventually, they hope to determine where cacao was produced in the Belize Valley in historic or prehistoric times.

Read the full article in Smithsonian Magazine.


Professor edits new book about ancient Mesoamerica

May 4, 2012

book cover
Professor Eleanor Harrison-Buck, assistant professor of anthropology, has edited the book Power and Identity in Archaeological Theory and Practice: Case Studies from Ancient Mesoamerica (Utah University Press, 2012).

The contributions to this volume represent a diverse array of Mesoamerican archaeological studies that are all theoretically rooted to larger, global debates concerning issues of power and identity—two logically paired concepts. While social identity has been the focus of more critical analysis in recent years, the concept of power has received far less attention. Most studies focus on large-scale, institutional forms of power and the ruling body. Here, the focus is on relations of power, addressing broader segments of society outside the dominant group, that often are ignored in traditional reconstructions of past societies.

“By coupling the study of power and identity, Harrison-Buck opens up a new avenue for research on power, an age-old question in archaeology.”—Cynthia Robin, Northwestern University


It’s here: Spectrum

October 7, 2011

color spectrum on black
The Department of Anthropology has launched a new online undergraduate journal called Spectrum. Its purpose is to provide a venue for UNH students to publish and share their work with the university community and the general public. Edited by anthropology professors Svetlana Peshkova and Eleanor Harrison-Buck, the inaugural issue, just published, includes student articles by Olivia Marcus, Matt Bouchard, Alanna Duffy, and Ashley Bourgault.

www.unh.edu/anthropology/spectrum2011


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