Universiteit Leiden

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Honorary doctorate for anthropologist Rosemary Joyce

American anthropologist Rosemary Joyce will be awarded an honorary doctorate from Leiden University on its Dies Natalis on 8 February. Joyce has delivered important new insights into the ancient Mayan cultures of Central America.

Rosemary Joyce at Lake Yojoa in Honduras.

Rosemary Joyce (1956) is Professor of Anthropology and Social Archaeology at the University of California, Berkeley. She has conducted decades of field research in Honduras and elsewhere, yielding valuable information about the period from 1500 BC to the Spanish colonisation from the 16th century. Joyce researches monumental art, small-scale images, objects such as earthenware pots and texts from the Mayan culture. 

Power relations

An important question in her research is how people use objects to negotiate their place in society. She has been able to reconstruct the power relations in these ancient societies and has written groundbreaking articles and books about the symbolic use of representational imagery in Mayan culture, for instance, to reinforce gendered identities.    

Joyce (far right) works together with local communities, such as here the people of Santiago in Honduras.

Collaboration with local communities and museums

Thanks to her collaboration with local communities and countless museums, Joyce has managed to interest a large audience in the ancient cultures of Central America. She has worked on exhibitions in various museums in Honduras, North America and Europe.

Joyce will receive the honorary doctorate from Maarten Jansen, Emeritus Professor of Archaeology and Ethnohistory of Central America, and Marja Spierenburg, Professor of Anthropology of Sustainability.

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