My research focuses on the performance and embodiment of time in Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, and its implications for the creation of a social memory. I am also interested in traces of these concepts as practiced and represented by contemporary indigenous (Maya) cultures and artists.
My dissertation, Living Time, Performing Memory: Maya Ceremonies of Foundation and Renewal, is concerned with how Maya notions of cyclical time were practiced, looking specifically at how the past, present, and future coexisted in particular moments. Ceremonies of renewal that took place at certain foldings of time, such as period endings and royal accessions, were crucial occasions when the proper rituals had to be re-enacted in order for the world to continue. Rulers and elites not only performed these rituals, but also left objects that functioned as memory markers to recall actions of the past into the present. This project looks at primary sources in the form of carved stelae, reliefs, painted ceramics, murals, and the built environment from the Preclassic to the Postclassic Maya period. The sites of Palenque and Copán serve as case studies for how rulers performed and recorded their embodied remembrances of time-renewal ceremonies. Small portable objects offer insight as to additional characters who participated in these rituals, which enriches the traditional focus on the role of the ruler.
Through the case studies and a close analysis of the primary materials, this study expands on the notion of cyclical time in Maya culture as was previously understood to one that includes a vision and practice of a coexistence of times, or what I call timefulness. Rulers and elite created these moments of timefulness through elaborate ceremonies in order to renew time and thus, guarantee their future. These ideas of reaching for the past in a way that propels Maya people towards the future, and not as a sense of nostalgia, challenges current Western ideas that place modern-day Maya as always stuck in the past. Thus, this project enlightens our understanding of ancient Maya philosophies and practices as well as how these ideas endure amongst their contemporary descendants.
- “Animated Supernaturals: Skin as a Transformative Material in Maya Rituals,” in Landscapes of Exchange, Material and Visual Cultures of Religion Journal, Yale University Press, (in preparation, by invitation). [Peer Reviewed]
- “Decolonizing time and space: experiences from the Igbo and Maya cultures,” with Snezana Vuletic, in Indigeneities: Territories, Spaces and Conceptual Maps, On_Culture: the Open Journal for the Study of Culture, International Graduate Center for the Study of Culture, Giessen, Germany. (in preparation, accepted). [Peer Reviewed]
- “Maya Visions of Time: Imagining the Past in the Future,” In Indigeneity: Claims, Relationships, and Concepts Between the Disciplines, Australian National University Press, (forthcoming). [Peer Reviewed]
- “Introduction,” Landbody: Indigeneity’s Radical Commitments, with co-editor Robert Geroux, University of Minnesota Press, (forthcoming). [Peer Reviewed]
- "The Mother of Corn: an Iconographical Analysis of Female Corn Deities in Mesoamerica and the American Southwest." M.A. thesis, University of California, Riverside, 2007.
- “Ordering Time, Contesting Representation in Ancient to Contemporary Maya Visual Culture.” Indigeneities: Territories, Spaces and Conceptual Mappings Conference, The International Graduate Center for the Study of Culture/Giessen University, Giessen, 2016.
- "Enduring Time in Maya Practices of Renewal." Landbody: Indigeneity’s Radical Commitments Conference, Center for 21st Century Studies/UW-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, 2016.
- “Living Time, Performing Memory: Maya Ceremonies of Foundation and Renewal.” Master of University House Lecture Series, Australian National University, Canberra, 2015.
- “Creatures of Creation: Embodiment of Supernaturals in Ancient Maya Ceremonies,” College Art Association Conference, New York City, 2015.
- "Decolonial Aesthetics in Contemporary Maya Art," Crossing Borders Graduate Student Conference, USC, Los Angeles, CA, 2013.
- “Maize Goddesses in Mesoamerica,” Southern California Mesoamerican Network, Los Angeles, CA, 2013.
- "(Re)Considering Contemporary Maya Visual Practices." College Art Association Conference, Los Angeles, 2012.
- Pre-Hispanic Maya Visual Culture
- Pre-Hispanic Mesoamerica Visual Culture
- Gender in Pre-Hispanic Mesoamerica
- Chicano Art
- Indigenous Art in the Contemporary moment
- UC Mexus Dissertation Grant (2015-2016)
- Arts Dean Summer Research Grant (2015)
- Integrative Graduate Humanities Education and Researach Training Fellowship: Indigeneity in an Expanded Field (2014-2016)
- UC Cota-Robles Fellowship (2011-2014)
- Chancellor's Fellowship (2010-2011)
- UC MEXUS Student and Postdoctoral Research Grant (2011)
- Arts Dean Graduate Student Travel Award (2013)
- Porter Fellowship (2012, 2014)
- Arts Dean Excellence Award (2012)