Brent Metz

Brent Metz
  • Affiliate Faculty, Indigenous Studies
  • Director of Undergraduate Studies & Professor, Anthropology

Contact Info

Fraser Hall, room 609
1415 Jayhawk Blvd.
Lawrence, KS 66045


Ph.D. in Anthropology, State University of New York-Albany, 1995, Albany, NY
M.A. in Anthropology, University of Michigan, 1989, Ann Arbor, MI
B.A. in Spanish & Anthropology, Western Michigan University Honors College, 1986, Kalamazoo, MI
magna cum laude


  • Latin America
  • Central America
  • Mexico
  • Indigenous development
  • Teaching of anthropology
  • Masculinity
  • Applied field schools
  • Service learning
  • Ethnography
  • Migration
  • Climate change


My primary research focus since 1990 has been the changing quality of life and the politics of identity among impoverished Ch'orti'-Maya subsistence farmers in eastern Guatemala and western Honduras, and mestizos in the former Ch'orti'-speaking area of northwestern El Salvador. In December 2019 I submitted a book on the contradictory approaches – particularly deconstructionist vs. activist – to Indigenous recognition, using my research in the former Ch'orti'-speaking region as a case study. The digital version of the book includes hyperlinks to 3 hours of video on YouTube, as well as dozens of digital maps and photos. My latest research has emphasized applied anthropology. I have led three multidisciplinary field schools among the Ch'orti's of Honduras and Guatemala (2011, 2013, 2016), helped co-found the Engineers Without Borders – Sunflower Professional Chapter (2011) to implement sustainable development among the Ch'orti's, and have served on the board of directors for the Lawrence Centro Hispano (2006-12), for which my students have performed service learning since 2007. Since 2016, I have been invited to be a part of a multidisciplinary research team on climate change and water scarcity in Central America's "Dry Corridor", which coincides with the region traditionally known as southern Mesoamerica. We met in September 2019 at the University of Arizona and in October 2019 at the University of New Mexico and plan to write a team NSF grant within the next year. My sabbatical will largely be devoted to this project, as well as individual grant applications.

I am interested in development in the broadest sense in terms of quality of life, including identity, consciousness raising, technology, health and political participation. I have also undertaken ethnographic research among Mexican-American migrant farmworkers in Michigan, on religious festivals in Seville, Spain, and of agrochemical practices among Costa Rican coffee farmers.


Since earning my PhD in 1995, I have designed and taught 22 different courses at 5 institutions, including 2 online courses. In my anthropology position at KU, I have taught Indigenous Traditions of Latin America, Mexamerica, Introduction to Cultural Anthropology, Masculinity in Cross-cultural Perspective, Contemporary Central America & Mexico, The Teaching of Anthropology, Indigenous Development in Latin America, Varieties of Human Experience, Multidisciplinary Field School in Collaboration with the Ch'orti' Maya, Succeeding in Anthropology, and Doing Ethnography. Most have been joint undergraduate/graduate courses.

A principal tenet of my teaching philosophy is that students should learn how to connect the dots between a course's subject matter and their everyday decisions; otherwise, they will not only forget the material as soon as they walk out the door but they will be uninformed citizens. I remind them that courses with global content are offered here because the U.S. is a global power and has a sense of global accountability, such that students here have inordinate responsibility to understand others on the planet. To enhance my strategies for getting students to make course material a part of their lives, I attended a CTE Best Practices Institute in 2005.

Since then, I constantly test students' abilities to interpret current events and challenge erroneous media representations. I announce relevant campus and community events, and feel it my duty to attend them myself. For Introduction to Cultural Anthropology, I offered students an extra credit point for every Global Awareness Program (GAP) "extracurricular activity" point earned, which put them in the habit of seeing campus events as opportunities.

My most popular courses are Indigenous Traditions of Latin America and Mexamerica. The goals of the former are for students to become engaged experts in the struggles of Latin America's Indigenous peoples. I cover the historical, environmental and cultural diversity throughout Latin America before exploring the complex issues of Indigenous rights. I introduce each section with the major questions to be answered, and if the section culminates in a take-home paper, I give them the assignment at the start to guide them in their readings and notes. I also provide questions for each reading on Blackboard as springboards for discussion. My classes generally have a question-and-answer format covering the main points of the readings and videos and how they relate to the students' lives. I periodically experiment with new techniques to enhance engagement, such as in-class debates, the submission of "truth statements" or key quotes from readings for discussion, and calling forward a small group for questions and answers. If the enrollment is low, I grade on daily participation. For larger classes I might give pop quizzes, which have served as an impetus for greater student engagement and higher grades. Exams and take-home papers are designed to test students' ability to apply concepts, not simply memorize them. For example, I might ask them to compare and contrast the utility of two or more approaches. Finally, I have students compose their term papers in a grant proposal format, in which they propose to either investigate an issue as it relates to course themes or carry out an applied project. Graduate students submit longer research projects as well as critique supplemental readings.

In Mexamerica, the goal is for students to become specialists on how Mexican and U.S. popular culture, politics, economics, and identity are dialectically intertwined. Topics include the Mexican-American War, U.S. investment in Mexico, migration, maquiladoras, national debt, tourism, movies, music, NAFTA and the drug/weapons trade. Students' consciousnesses are raised as to how their everyday decisions affect others. Besides the various approaches mentioned in the preceding paragraph, I instituted a service-learning component, in which students are required to donate twelve hours to the Lawrence Hispanic Center or other local organization serving recent Mexican immigrants. Activities have included a survey of local Latino needs, the creation of a community service video documentary, translation for health clinics, and one-on-one English-Spanish language partnerships.

Since 2011 I have lead multidisciplinary groups of undergraduate and graduate students on applied field courses in Honduras and Guatemala among my main research population, the Ch'orti' Maya. Their projects have included doing tourism analysis, researching for and designing ethnic activism webpages, organizing cultural fairs, and collecting data for rural water systems. I am far from perfect as a teacher but strive for constant improvement for the sake of the students. I pay close attention to evaluations and my TA's advice, taking heed that I need to aim my lectures more towards the general student population rather than the upper echelon. I have much to learn from some of my award-winning colleagues, and I would like to take more advantage of the CTE.

Regarding advising, I was undergraduate coordinator in Anthropology for 3 years and served on the Undergraduate Committee in Anthropology for 9 years. I also served on the Undergraduate Committee in Latin American & Caribbean Studies for 3.5 years. In Anthropology, I led efforts to institutionalize a capstone and 1-credit online career course for the major, among other initiatives. My effort has been especially focused on getting students to think of their larger careers and personal enrichment rather than just the minimum to complete the major or minor. As the Anthropology student club advisor in 3 different years, I organized a career night for majors and prospective majors. I regularly urge students to pursue study abroad, internships and perform service learning. I have also regularly participated in Honors Program recruitment functions.

Graduate students sometimes feel underserved and disrespected, and I make it a point to treat them as incipient professionals and convey the importance of their potential contributions to anthropology and society in general. As with the undergrads, I expect the most out of them. I remind them constantly that graduate school is their opportunity to build a foundation for their careers and become experts in their specialties. In other words, taking the route of least resistance will not serve them in a tough job market. I have also done my best to give them practical experience, and with university grant or assistantship funds I have employed five of them on my research projects. One area in which I have been improving is attending more to promising graduate students rather letting my time be monopolized by low-performing ones.

Currently, I am in the process of arranging a series of multidisciplinary field schools in collaboration with KU Study Abroad, the Center of Latin American & Caribbean Studies, and the Intercultural University of San Luis Potosí (UISLP). I will be leading 5 faculty on a guided trip to UISLP's campuses and the general population they serve over Spring Break 2020.

Selected Publications


Forthcoming Where Have the Eastern Mayas Gone? The Labyrinth of Ch’orti’ Indigeneity and Mestizaje in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. University Press of Colorado.

2006 Ch'orti'-Maya Survival in Eastern Guatemala: Indigeneity in Transition. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. (346pp.)

2002 with Julián López, Primero Dios: Etnografía y cambio social entre los mayas ch’orti’s del oriente de Guatemala [God Willing: Ethnography and Social Change among the Ch’orti’ Maya of Eastern Guatemala]. Guatemala: FLACSO, Plumsock, Oxfam, COMACH & Horizont 3000. (279 pp.)

Edited Volume

2009 1st editor, Cameron L. McNeil and Kerry M. Hull co-editors. The Ch’orti’ Maya Area, Past and Present. University Press of Florida. (25 contributors from 6 disciplines, 20 chapters).

Peer Reviewed Articles

2017 with Jodi Gentry, “Adapting Photovoice to the Marginal Indigenous Ch’orti’ Maya.” Human Organization 76(3):251-63.

2016 “The Challenge of Framing Migration for the Public.” Practicing Anthropology 38(1):48-50.

2012 “El laberinto de la indigenidad: Cómo se determina quién es indígena maya ch’orti’ en Guatemala, Honduras y El Salvador.”Reflexiones 91(1): 221-234.

Brent E. Metz. p.32010 “Questions of Indigeneity and the (Re)-Emergent Ch’orti’ Maya of Honduras.”Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology 15(2):289-316.

2010 co-authored with Lorenzo Mariano and Julián López García. “The Violence after La Violencia in the Ch’orti’ Region of Eastern Guatemala.”Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology 15(1):16-41.

2001 "Politics, Population, and Family Planning in Guatemala: Ch’orti’ Maya Experiences." Human Organization 60(3):259-274.

1998 “Without Nation, Without Community: The Growth of Maya Nationalism among Ch’orti’s of Eastern Guatemala.” Journal of Anthropological Research 54(3):325-349.

1991 with Liliana Goldin. “An Expression of Cultural Change: Invisible Converts to Protestantism among the Highland Guatemalan Mayas.”Ethnology 30(4):325-338.

1990 “The Dynamics of Culture and Law: Anglo Domination of Mexican Migrants in Michigan.” Michigan Sociological Review 4:33-45.

Book Chapters Under Review

“Causes of Migration to and from the Ch’orti’ Maya Area of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.” In: Human Migration: Biocultural Perspectives, edited by Dr. Maria de Lourdes Muñoz Moreno and Michael C. Crawford. University of Oxford Press, USA.

2016 “An Ambivalent Nation: Chortís in Eastern Guatemala and Western Honduras.” Pp.193-207 in Modern Wilderness: Mobility, Friction, and Frontiers in Asia and the Americas from 1800, edited by Jaime Moreno Tejada and Bradley Tatar. New York: Routledge.

2015 1st author with Alfredo Francesch. “Llamas de inseguridad en el oriente de Guatemala: Megaproyectos y la quema de la municipalidad de Jocotán” [The Flames of Insecurity in Eastern Guatemala: Megaprojects and the Burning of Jocotán’s City Hall.] Pp.247-69 in Dinosaurio reloaded: Violencias actuales en Guatemala [Dinosaur Reloaded: Contemporary Violence in Guatemala], Manuela Camus, SantiagoBastos, & Julián López, eds. FLACSO (Facultad Latinoamericano de Ciencas Sociales) & Universidad de Córdoba.

2014 with Meghan Webb, “Historical Sediments of Competing Gender Models in Indigenous Guatemala.” Pp.193-211 in Masculinities in a Global Era, Joseph Gelfer, ed. Springer Press.

2009 “Las ‘ruinas’ olvidadas en el área ch’orti’: Apuntes para una historiade la violencia en el oriente de Guatemala.” Pp.65-92 in Guatemala: Violencias Desbordadas, Julián López García, Santiago Bastos, & Manuela Camus, eds. Córdoba, Spain: FLACSO (Facultad Latinoamericano de Ciencas Sociales) and Universidad de Córdoba.

2009 “The ‘Ch’orti’ Area’.” Pp.1-14 in The Ch’orti’ Maya Area, Past and Present. Brent E. Metz, Cameron L. McNeil and Kerry M. Hull, eds. Gainesville: University Press of Florida.

2009 “Searching for Ch’orti’ Maya Indigenousness in Contemporary Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.” Pp.161-73 in The Ch’orti’ Maya Area, Past and Present. Brent E. Metz, Cameron L. McNeil and Kerry M. Hull, eds. University Press of Florida.

2007 “De la cosmovision a la herencia: La mayanizacion y los bases cambiantes de la etnia en el area ch’orti’” [From Cosmovisión to Ancestry: Mayanization and the Changing Bases of Ethnicity in the Ch’orti’ Area]. Pp.445-467 del in Mayanización y vida cotidiana: La ideología y el discurso cultural en la sociedad guatemalteca. Volumen 2: Estudios de caso. [Mayanization and Daily Life: Ideology and Cultural Discourse in Guatemalan Society]. Santiago Bastos and Aura Cumes, eds. Guatemala: FLACSO.

2003 “Expresion de cambio cultural: Conversos invisibles al protestantismo entre mayas del altiplano occidental” [An Expression of Cultural Change: Invisible Converts to Protestantism among Highland Mayas]. Pp. 61-85 in Procesos Globales en el Campo de Guatemala. Opciones Economicas y Transformaciones Ideologicas [Global Processes in Rural Guatemala: Economic Options and Ideological Transformations]. Liliana Goldin,ed. Guatemala: FLACSO.

2001 “Grounding the Culture Concept, or Pulling the Rug Out from under Students.” Pp.181-185 in Strategies in Teaching Anthropology 2nd Ed. Patricia C. Rice and David W. McCurdy, eds. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

2001 “The Politics of Guatemalan 'Overpopulation' Through the Ch'orti' Case.” Pp. 141-154 in The Past and Present Maya: Essays in Honor of Robert M. Carmack, John M. Weeks, ed. Lancaster, CA: Labyrinthos.

2001 “Investigación y colaboración en el movimiento maya-ch'orti'.” [Investigation and Collaboration in Ch’orti’-Maya Movement]. Pp. 311-340 in Los derechos humanos en tierras mayas: Politica, representaciones y moralidad [Human Rights in the Maya Lands: Politics, Representation, and Morality]. Pedro Pitarch and Julián López, eds. Madrid: Sociedad Española de Estudios Mayas.

1997 with Liliana Goldin, “Invisible Convertsto Protestantism in Highland Guatemala.” Pp. 61-80 in Crosscurrents in Indigenous Spirituality: Interface of Maya, Catholic and Protestant Worldviews. Guillermo Cook, ed. Leiden: E.J. Brill.

Conference Proceedings

2013 with Jodi Gentry. “Community-Based Participatory Approaches for Addressing the Social, Environmental and Cultural Challenges of Development.” Pp.1441-1453 in World Environmental and Water Resources Congress 2013.

2007 “¿Quiénes son los ch’orti’s? Una exploración de los márgenes de la identidad maya.” pp.84-104 en Memorias del III Congreso Internacional sobre el Pop Wuj.” Quezaltenango: Liga Maya Guatemala, TIMACH, & Grupo Amanuense.

Non-refereed Articles

2008 “Postcard from Guatemala.” Anthropology Newsletter 49(1):28-29.

2001 "Mayas of the East: Identity, Security and Cultural Activism among the Ch ́orti ́s." Report on Guatemala, National Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA) 22(1):54-59.

Book Reviews

2012 Becoming Mapuche: Person and Ritual in Indigenous Chile, by Magnus Course. University of Illinois Press, Champaign, 2011. American Ethnologist 39(4):863-4.

2004 The Rigoberta Menchú Controversy, Arturo Arias, ed. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 2001. American Ethnologist 31(2):2006-7.

2002 Mayan People within and beyond Boundaries: Social Categories and Lived Identity in Yucatán, by Peter Hervik. Harwood Academic Publications, Amsterdam, 1999. Anthropological Forum 10(1):77+.


2016 with Kirsten Austad, Anita Chary, Alejandra Colom, Rodrigo Barillas, Danessa Luna, Cecilia Menívar, Amy Petrocy, Anne Ruch and Peter Rohloff. “Fertility Awareness Methods Are Not Modern Contraceptives: Defining Contraception to Reflect Our Priorities.” Global Health: Science and Practice 4(2):342-45.

2012 McAnany, Patricia A., and Shoshaunna Parks. “Casualties of Heritage Distancing: Children, Ch’orti’ Indigeneity and the Copán Archaeoscape.”Current Anthropology 53(1):80-107. Commentary pp.96-97.


Ch’orti’ Mayas carrying sacks of coffee to be weighed on a plantation. P. 8 in Michael Laslett, 2001, “A Bitter Taste: Struggling for a Just Minimum.” NACLA Report on the Americas 34(6):8-11.

Selected Presentations

Panels – Organizer, Chair and/or Discussant

“Resource Extraction and Economic Recovery: Structures and Methods.” Society for Applied Anthropology, Vancouver, Canada. Saturday April 2, 2016. Chair.

“Sports in Mexican America: From Battlegrounds to Ballfields.” Mid-American American Studies Association, Lawrence, KS, Saturday March 5. Chair & Discussant.

“Navigating Cultural Identities.” See/Saw Film Festival, Lawrence, KS, March 4. Discussant.

Graduate Student Poster Presentations. See/Saw Film Festival, Lawrence, KS, March 4. Discussant.

“The Ch’orti’ Maya Area of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador? Contemporary Perspectives.” American Anthropological Assn. (AAA), Denver, Nov. 19, 2015. Organizer & Chair.

“Ethnic Groups in Central America.” Latin American Studies Association, 2nd Conference on Race, Ethnicity and Indigenous Peoples, University of California, San Diego, November 3, 2011. Chair.

“Mesoamerican Relationships with Nature” (12 participants), American Anthropological Assn. (AAA), Washington, D.C., Nov. 28, 2007.Organizer & Chair.

“Borderline Indigeneities” (4 participants, 2 disciplines), Latin American Studies Assn (LASA), San Juan, Puerto Rico, 3/15/2006. Organizer & Chair.

“The Ch’orti’ Maya Area, Past and Present” (14 participants, 4 disciplines), AAA, Washington D.C., 12/1/2005. Organizer & Chair.

“Out of the Shadows: Recent Research in the Guatemalan Oriente” (7 participants, 3 nations), LASA, Dallas, 3/28/2003. Organizer & Chair.

“Roundtable: The Problem of Indigenous Authenticity in the Maya Region” (11 participants, 5 nations), AAA, New Orleans, 11/24/2002. Organizer & Chair.

“Who, How, and Where Are Guatemalans? Current Issues in Guatemalan Demography” (10 presenters, 4 disciplines, 4 nations) AAA, Philadelphia, 12/4/1998. Organizer & Chair.

Professional Presentations

“Insider/outsider Indigenous Studies in Anthropology Roundtable: Where Critical Reflections Matter.” Roundtable Discussion for the American Anthropological Association, Washington, D.C. 11/30/17

“The Ch’orti’ Maya Diaspora.” Second International Human Migration Conference, CINVESTAV University, Mexico City. 10/18/17

“How We Think and Write about Migration.” Special invited panel for the Society for Applied Anthropology, Santa Fe, New Mexico. 3/31/17.

“Maya History and Cultures.” Invited presentation for The American Indian Culture Day & Art Extravaganza, Johnson County Community College (Kansas), 12/10/16.

“Ch’orti’ Maya Perceptions of Environmental Change: The Erosion of a Worldview.” Invited Marxico Visiting Scholar Presentation. Boettcher Auditorium, Department of Geography & Environment, University of Denver. 10/27/16.

“Intersecting with Engineers Without Borders in a Latin American Indigenous Water Project.” Society for Applied Anthropology, Vancouver, Canada. 4/2/16.

“Situational Identity, Opportunism, and Self-Defense in Eastern Guatemala and Western Honduras.” American Anthropological Assn. (AAA), Denver, 11/19/2015.

“An Ambivalent Nation: Chortís in Eastern Guatemala and Western Honduras.” Latin American Studies Association, San Juan, Puerto Rico. In Panel “Identificación Colectiva de Naciones Indígenas Transfronterizas.” 5/28/15.

“An Ethnographic Approach to Exploring Indigenous Heritage and Identity in the Former Ch’orti’-Speaking Area.” Society for American Archeology, Austin, TX. In Symposium “New Definitions of Southeastern Mesoamerica: Indigenous Interaction, Resilience and Change.” 4/25/14.

"Chickens Coming 'Home' to Roost: U.S. Policy Spurring Mexican and Central American Migration.” University of Kansas Human Migration Lecture Series, 4/6/14.

“Megaprojects Vs. Subsistence Agriculture in Ch’orti’ Maya Area of Guatemala.” Society for Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology, Annual Meetings, Mérida, Mexico, 3/21/13.

“Indigenous Development.” KU Commons Red Hot Research Series. 2/8/13.

“Combining Engineering and Anthropology in Development: Engineers Without Borders among the Ch'orti' Maya of Guatemala.” With Jodi Gentry. KU Hall Center for the Humanities, Latin American Studies Seminar. 1/25/13.

“Development Challenges among the Ch’orti’ Maya.” Engineers Without Borders – Kansas City Professional Chapter. Black & Veatch Corporation. 8/20/12.

“The Ch’orti’ Maya Applied Field School: Integrating Research, Teaching and Multidisciplinary Service Learning.” KU Latin American Studies 50th Anniversary Conference, “Latin American Studies: Past, Present and Future.” 11/19/11.

“Indians in the Closet? Latent Indigeneity vs. Mestizaje in Northwestern El Salvador.” KU Center of Latin American Studies, Merienda lecture series. 11/10/11.

“Ch'orti' Mayas in Northwestern El Salvador? Misadventures and Revelations in Surveying Indigeneity and Mestizaje.” Latin American Studies Association, 2nd Conference on Race, Ethnicity and Indigenous Peoples, University of California, San Diego. 11/3/11.

“Social, Cultural and Technical Challenges to Developing the Ch’orti’ Maya of Guatemala.” Engineers Without Borders, Sunflower Professionals branch, Bartlett & West, Topeka. 7/27/11.

“Remember the Indian in a Mestizo Region of Central America.” KU Hall Center for the Humanities Fellows lecture series. 5/3/11.

“Promoting Community with Latino Immigrants Via Service Learning.” Society for Applied Anthropology, Mérida, Mexico, 3/26/10.

“Reverse Oz-mosis: From Ch’orti’ Homesteads to the Kansas Netherworld.” LASA, Rio de Janeiro, 6/12/09.

“Violence after ‘the Violence’ in the Ch’orti’ Region of Eastern Guatemala.” AAA, San Francisco, 11/22/2008.

“Las ‘ruinas’ olvidadas en el área ch’orti’: Apuntes para una historia de la violencia en el oriente de Guatemala.” Seminario Internacional: Expresiones y representaciones de la violencia en Guatemala FLACSO / Universidad de Córdoba / Cooperación Española de Desarrollo.Antigua Guatemala, 10/2-3/2008.

"Racial Ideologies in the Ch'orti' Maya Movements of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.” Latin American Studies Association, First Conference on Ethnicity, Race and Indigenous Peoples, University of California, San Diego. 5/22-23/2008.

“The Abduction of a Ladina Girl: A Window into Human Trafficking in Guatemala.” Distinguished speaker, KU Latin Americanist Graduate Research Competition, 4/7/2008.

“When Our Subjects Come Knocking at the Door: An Ethnographic Fiction.” KU Nuestra América in the U.S.? Latino Studies conference, 2/9/2008.

“Changing Ch’orti’ Perceptions of the Natural World.” AAA, Washington, D.C., 11/29/2007.

“Ch’orti’ Maya Indigeneity in Honduras.” KU Hall Center for the Humanities Latin American Seminar, 9/28/2007.

“Contesting Indigeneity: Ch’orti’ Maya Revival in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.” KU CLAS XII Annual Waggoner Research Colloquium, 11/3/2006.

“Ambiguous Indigeneities in the Ch'orti' Area of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.” LASA, San Juan, Puerto Rico, 3/15/2006.

“Searching for Ch’orti’ Indigeneity in Contemporary Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.” AAA, Washington, D.C., 12/1/2005.

“Indigeneity in the Ch’orti’ Maya Region of Northern Central America.” KU CLAS Merienda Lecture, 11/10/05.

“The Gray Borderlines of Indigeneity in Central America.” KU Anthropology Graduate Student Association, 3/30/2005.

“Los ch’orti’s de Guatemala, El Salvador y Honduras”. Coordinación Maya Ch’orti’, International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, Jocotán, Guatemala, 8/9/2004.

“Teaching Culture and Indigeneity.” KU CLAS XII Annual Waggoner Research Colloquium, 11/7/2003.

“¿Quiénes son los ch'orti's? Una exploración de los márgenes de la indigeneidad maya.” III Congreso Internacional sobre el Pop Wuj Libro Sagrado Maya de Guatemala. Quezaltenango, Guatemala, 8/6/2003.

“Negotiating Maya-ness in Eastern Guatemala.” KU CLAS Merienda Lecture, 12/27/2002.

“Machete Penises and Devouring Vaginas: The Ethnographer and Ch'orti' Sexuality.” KU Hall Center for the Humanities Gender Seminar, 12/19/2001.

“Derechos, deseos y demandas de campesinos y líderes mayas en Guatemala y Honduras.” Cultura y Derechos Indígenas en Iberoamérica (Indigenous Culture and Rights in Ibero-America), Universidad de Extremadura, Spain, 7/4/2001.

“Indigenous Political Movements in Comparative Perspective: The Pan-Maya Movement.” KU Center of Latin American Studies, Latin America's Indigenous Peoples: Cultural Diversity and Globalization, 11/10/2000.

“Local Level Collaborative Observation in the Maya Movement”, LASA, Miami, 3/16/2000.

“The Causes, Consequences and Politics of Ch'orti' ‘Overpopulation’”, AAA, Philadelphia, 12/4/1998.

“The Pan-Maya Movement among the Ch'orti's of Eastern Guatemala”, Temple University, Philadelphia, 10/7/1998.

“A Holistic View of Development Among Ch’orti’s of Eastern Guatemala,” Symposium for Global Development Studies Program, Grinnell College, 3/9/1998.

“Ladino vs. Maya Nationalism among Ch’orti’s of Eastern Guatemala,” AAA, Washington, 11/19/1997.

“The Body as Politics: Working Class Mexican-American and Ch’orti’ Male Sexual Joking,” St. Mary’s College, Moraga, CA, 2/18/1997.

“Complementing Detached with Participatory Empiricism of the Ch’orti’,” AAA, San Francisco, 12/22/1996.

“The Meaning of Poverty to the Maya-Ch’orti’,” AAA, Washington, 11/19/1995.

“Maya-Ch’orti’ Masculinity as Projected and Imagined,” AAA, Atlanta, 12/1/1994.

“Current Mesoamerican Anthropological Theory and Applications to the Maya-Ch’orti’,” Western Michigan University Department of Anthropology, 1/7/1994.

“Maya-Chortí World View and Political Economic Practice,” Institute of Mesoamerican Studies, SUNY-Albany, 5/6/1991.

“Subordination and Resistance among Mexican Migrant Farmworkers in Michigan.” Michigan Academy of Sciences Annual Meetings, Adrian College, 10/23/1989.

Public Presentations

Interviewed by reporter Jorge Vasconcellos on 12/17/18 for Brazilia newspaper Correio Braziliense on how to improve conditions for global refugees and migrants. Published as “Desafios para deter as causas do êxodo”, 1/21/19, p.12.

“El peso de la historia y las tradiciones en el desarrollo de los maya ch’orti’s.” Centro Universitario del Oriente (San Carlos), Chiquimula, Guatemala. Organized by Médicos del Mundo (Doctors of the World) for doctors, university faculty, the general public, press and university students. 250 in attendance. 8/1/18

Radio interview, NPR-KCUR show “Central Standard.” Theme: “Kansas City's Immigrant Communities Feel the Pull of International Crises”.

“The Development Needs of the Ch’orti’ Maya of Guatemala.” Engineers Without Borders, University of Kansas chapter. Eaton Hall. 5/1/14.

“Engineering Water Solutions in Guatemala.” (with Emily Robbins, President of Engineers Without Borders – Sunflower State Professional Chapter) Kiwanis Club of Lawrence, Kansas. Lawrence Country Club, 6/20/13.

“Needs and Challenges of Sustainable Rural Water Projects among the Ch’orti’ Maya.” Black & Veatch Water, 8400 Ward Parkway, Kansas City, MO. 8/20/12.

“Development Challenges among the Ch’orti’ Maya of Guatemala.” Engineers Without Borders – Sunflower State Professional chapter. Topeka, 5/18/11.

“The Development Needs of the Ch’orti’ Maya of Guatemala.” Engineers Without Borders, Kansas City professional chapter. 11/15/10.

“The Development Needs of the Ch’orti’ Maya of Honduras.” Engineers Without Borders, University of Kansas chapter. Eaton Hall. 10/7/10.

"To Be, or Not to Be Indian: The Dynamics of Ch'orti' Maya

Identity in Central America.” University of Kansas “Mini-College” for alumnae. May 25, 2010.

Testimony against Kansas House Bill 2680 & Senate Bill 458 (bills prohibiting undocumented immigrants from state-funded services and all employment), Topeka, KS, 2/26/2008.

“Latino Immigration to the United States, Kansas and Lawrence (KS).” Plymouth Congregational Church, Lawrence, KS, 2/17/2008.

“Indigenous-ness: The New Counter-Culture in Latin America.” All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church, 4501 Walnut, Kansas City, MO, 12/19/2004.

“Web Resources for Area Studies Jobs.” KU Center of Latin American Studies & Russian/East European Studies Jobs Workshop, Lawrence, 2/16/2002.

“The Importance of Latin America in the Curriculum.” Missouri Community College Symposium on Global Education, Country Club Marriot, Kansas City, MO, 11/15/2001.

“Witchcraft in Global Perspective.” Unitarian Universalist Church, Kalamazoo, MI, 3/26/1995.

Research Institutes

Tepotzlán Institute, 1-week (July 21-28, 2010) invitation-only conference in Mexico, where 80 scholars from different disciplines discussed their current work and contemporary theory regrading Latin America.

Special Guest Teaching

Universidad de San Carlos (Guatemala), Facultad de Antropología y Historia. Seminar: “Nuevas teorías y metodologías de identidad,” 8/2-8/96. Note: Six-week seminar co-taught with Drs. Julian Lopez and Pedro Pitarch of the Universidad Complutense, Spain.

Selected Workshops and Conferences Organized and Chaired

Organizer, “Careers in Latin America”, KU Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS), 2/28/2004.

Organizer, “Africa & Latin America: Histories, Connections, Identities”, KU CLAS, 2/28-3/1/2003.

Chair, K-12 teacher workshop “Using Video in the Classroom”, KU CLAS, 4/28/2001 & 2/23/2002.

Coordinator, “Latin America’s Indigenous Peoples: Cultural Diversity and Globalization”, KU CLAS; Organizer, two K-12 teacher workshops; Discussant, “Recognizing Rights, Ensuring Participation: Current Issues of Indigenous Peoples in Latin America,” 11/10/2000.

Awards & Honors

KU International Studies George Woodyard International Educator Award, 2017. $1,000.

KU Department of Anthropology “Unbridled Award” for outstanding contribution to undergraduate teaching and advising.

KU Hall Center for the Humanities Faculty Fellowship, for writing a book on Ch’orti’ Maya indigeneity in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. January –May, 2011.

Phi Beta Delta Honor Society for International Scholars “Outstanding Faculty Award.” April 17, 2011.

KU Center for Teaching Excellence. Outstanding Educator Award. May 6, 2009.

SUNY Institute of Mesoamerican Studies Christopher Decormier Scholarship, 1991: “Political Economy and Worldview in Mesoamerica: The Maya-Chortí case,” $1,400.

Western Michigan U. Waldo-Sangren Scholarship, 1985: “Religious Fiestas of Seville, Spain,” $1,000.

State of Michigan Competitive Scholarship, 1982-1986.

Western Michigan University Academic Scholarship, 1982-1986.

Grants & Other Funded Activity

KU International Studies Travel Grant for book research and applied anthropology for Engineers Without Borders, June 2017. $1,660.

KU Center for Civic and Social Responsibility “Minigrant” Award for groundwork in organizing multidisciplinary applied field school in Guatemala for January 2015. $500.

KU Commons Seed Grant, with Belinda Sturm (engineering), Natalie Mladenov (engineering), Jodi Gentry (engineering), Aida Ramos Viera (geography) and Hispano Durón (film). “Combining Engineering, Public Health, Anthropological, Geographic, and Film Knowledge for Sustainable Development among the Ch’orti’ Maya of Guatemala.” $25,000. May 2013 –May 2014.

KU Center of Latin American Studies “Cluster Grant”, with Jodi Gentry, Belinda Sturm, and Peter Herlihy. . $5,000, May 2012 –May 2013.

KU Center of Latin American Studies Course Development Grants (2) Fall 2010 for “Indigenous Development in Latin America” & Spring 2011 “Applied Anthropology Field School in Copán Ruinas, Honduras”

KU Office of International Programs, Internationalizing the Curriculum Grant, 2010: Developing “Indigenous Development in Latin America”, $800.

KU General Research Fund, 2009: “An Oral History of the Guatemala Civil War in the Forgotten Oriente”, $1,144.

KU General Research Fund, 2007: “Review of Ethnographic Notes on the Ch’orti’ Maya at the Smithsonian Institution”, $2,880.

KU Office of International Programs, Internationalizing the Curriculum Grant, 2007: Developing “Masculinity in Cross-Cultural Perspective”, $800.

KU Center for Teaching Excellence Course Improvement Grant, 2007: Developing service learning component of “Mexamerica”, $750.

KU New Faculty General Research Fund, 2006: “Reformulating Indigeneity in Latin America: The Ch’orti’ Maya Case”, $8,000.

Fulbright Group Study Abroad, 2004: “Guatemala Seminar on Multiculturalism and Bilingual Education for K-12 and Community College Teachers”, $52,000. For Center for Latin American Studies.

Department of Education Title VI grant for National Resource Center/FLAS, 2003-06, $750,000. For Center for Latin American Studies.

Fulbright-Hays Faculty Research Abroad, 2003-04: “Out of the Shadows: The Death and Rebirth of the Ch'orti' Maya,” $30,610. Six-month ethnography in Guatemala, Honduras, & El Salvador.

Fulbright Scholar Award, 2003: “Remembering Indigenous Ethnicity in Northwestern El Salvador, ” $18,000. Included field research on Indigenous identity and teaching a graduate course on ethnographic methods and a field school at Universidad de Centroamérica and Universidad Tecnológica. Declined for Fulbright-Hays.

Fulbright Group Study Abroad, 2002: “Argentine Seminar on Childhood for K-12 and Community College Teachers,” $53,315. For Center for Latin American Studies.

Fulbright Group Study Abroad, 2001: “Costa Rican Seminar on Childhood for K-8 Teachers and Education Faculty,” $55,110. For Center for Latin American Studies.

Grinnell College Grant Board, 1997: “The Effectiveness of Pan-Maya Cultural Development in Eastern Guatemala,” $1,400.

SUNY Benevolent Grant, 1994: “The Influence of Catholic and Protestant Religions and Pan-Maya Organizations on Maya-Chortí Political Economy,” $500.

SUNY Benevolent Grant, 1991: “Training in Maya-Chortí at the Proyecto Linguístico Francisco Marroquín,Guatemala,” $500.

SUNY Benevolent Grant, 1990: “Ethnographic Survey of Eastern Guatemala, Southern Belize, and Western Honduras,” $500.



2016-present Associate Chair, Anthropology

2016-18 Coordinator of Curriculum Committee, Anthopology

2009-14 Coordinator of Undergraduate Committee, Anthropology

2014-15 Undergraduate Committee, Anthropology

2005-09 Undergraduate Committee

2014 Pre-tenure Review Committee for Dr. Carlos Nash

2014-15 Tenure Committee for Kathryn Rhine

2013-14 Annual Faculty Evaluation Committee

2013-14 Undergraduate Club (UAA) Mentor

2008-09 Undergraduate Club (AAU) Mentor

2007-09 Sociocultural/Linguistic Anthropology ‘Long-term Vision’ Committee Chair


2018-present Advisory Board, Global Awareness Program

2018-present Executive Committee, Center for Latin American & Caribbean Studies

2018-19 Search Committee for Indigenous languages expert for the KU Department of Spanish & Portuguese

2017-present Selection Committee, Woodyard International Educator Award

2014-present Faculty Ambassador, Center for Civic & Social Responsibility

2012-18 Undergraduate Committee, Center for Latin American & Caribbean Studies

2009-present Academic Misconduct Committee

2009-18 Advisory Board, Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies

2015 Evaluation committee member, Sharon & Jeffrey Vitter Award for Engaged Scholarship

2014-15 University Sabbatical Leave Committee

2012 NEH Grant Evaluation Committee, Hall Center

2011 Director, Hall Center "Latin American Studies Seminar"

2008-10 Faculty Senator

2010 Travel Grant Evaluation Committee, Hall Center

2002-10 Grant Committee, Center of Latin American Studies

2001-05, 07 Graduate Coordinator, Center of Latin American Studies

1997-98 Grinnell College Minority Student Mentor


2002-present Responses to requests for expert testimonies on asylum and other immigration cases (39 in 2018, including writing 2 legal briefs)

2012-present Co-founder & Cultural Liaison, Engineers Without Borders - Sunflower State Professionals

2010-present Wuqu Kawoq Maya Health Alliance Board Member

2006-12 Board Member, Lawrence Centro Hispano

2006 Chair, Organizer and Presenter for KU Center of Latin American Studies' "Guatemala Workshop for Teachers”


1998-present External reviewer for American Anthropologist, American Ethnologist, Cengage Learning Press, Current Anthropology, Edwin Mellon Press, Ethnicity & Health, Harwood Academic Publishers, Health Education Journal, Human Organization, Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power, Journal of Genocide Research, Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology, Journal of Latin American & Caribbean Ethnic Studies, Routledge and University of New Mexico Press.

2018 External Evaluator for Tenure, Dr. Bradley Tatar, Ulsan Institute of Science & Technology (Korea)

2016 External Evaluator for Tenure, Dr. Cameron McNeil, CUNY Graduate School


American Anthropological Association

Guatemalan Scholars Network

Latin American Studies Association

Academia de Lenguas Mayas, honorary member

Society for Latin American Anthropology

Society for Applied Anthropology

Phi Beta Delta Honor Society for International Scholars

Engineers Without Borders