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Speaker Series: Personhood, Memory, and Violence in a Maya Mass Grave
March 1, 2014 @ 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
“Personhood, Memory, and Violence in a Maya Mass Grave” will be the topic of an upcoming lecture at the East Tennessee State University and General Shale Natural History Museum ad Visitors Center at the Gray Fossil Site on Saturday, March 1, at 1:00 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.
The talk will be given by Dr. William N. Duncan, Assistant Professor in ETSU’s Department of Sociology & Anthropology.
Duncan’s talk will focus on the Postclassic period (ca. AD 950-1524), during which time the political geography in northern Guatemala was dominated by two warring Maya ethnic groups, the Itza and the Kowoj. Both groups used sacrifice and desecration of human bodies as a part of that ongoing conflict, and did so in a way that targeted specific aspects of personhood. Bodies were desecrated and displayed in civic forums in such a way to shaped public memory. During his talk, Duncan will present data from a Maya mass grave from northern Guatemala to explore these themes and discuss how archaeologists can sometimes gain insight into intangible aspects of past peoples’ lives.
“Most people intuitively understand how archaeologists can learn about aspects of past economies, politics, diets, settlement patterns, and even rituals by looking at ceramics, architecture, burials, and other aspects of the material record,” said Duncan. “What is less clear is how archaeologists can study less tangible aspects of the past, such as public memory and personhood and emotion.”
Duncan received a Ph.D. in anthropology from Southern Illinois University Carbondale in 2005. He studies bioarchaeology (human remains from archaeological sites) of Mesoamerican cultures, specifically the Maya, Mixtec, and Zapotec.
Duncan’s “Personhood, Memory, and Violence in a Maya Mass Grave” presentation is part of the speaker series hosted by the museum and is sponsored by the ETSU Don Sundquist Center of Excellence in Paleontology. Interested persons should visitwww.etsu.edu/naturalhistorymuseum for dates and times of future lectures.
The museum is open for winter hours Tuesday-Saturday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. For more information, or to arrange special assistance for persons with disabilities, call (866) 202-6223.
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