Author Bio(s)

I was born in the west-central highlands of Guatemala. My father was an American Methodist missionary from Philadelphia and my mother a native Guatemalan from San Cruz del Quiché. My maternal grandmother was considered Ladina but my maternal grandfather was Maya K’iche’. After my father’s retirement, our family moved to Texas for better educational opportunities. Eventually I received my Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. My initial doctoral research began in a hamlet in the Department of Quiché where my parents had returned to live and where I had spent my earliest years. My childhood experiences in Guatemala and my family’s history have influenced my research and professional interests. I taught anthropology at Our Lady of the Lake University (1985 – 2000) and at St. Mary’s University of San Antonio from 2000 until retiring in 2018.

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Maya figurine, teaching archaeology, ownership of cultural heritage, Maya heritage


The ekphrastic poem and the essay presented here revolves around a greenstone figurine that was found in Guatemala about a hundred years ago. I composed the poem as a way to capture the thoughts that passed through my mind as I contemplated this statuette. The figurine was given to me by my mother who had little information about it but believed it was an ancient Maya artifact. Over many years, I often wondered about the hidden secrets such an artifact may hold. During my teaching career, I took the figurine into archaeology classes as a useful teaching tool to help students understand important concepts and methods used in archaeology to make sense of the past. The essay explores the questions and issues raised by the poem such as what the figurine’s features reveal and what meaning or function the statuette may have held in the past. It also explores the poem’s question of who has the right to own such objects, a question that has gained much press coverage in recent times.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International License.