traci ardren wins fellowship with dumbarton oaks research center

Archaeologist Awarded Esteemed Fellowship

By Deserae E. del Campo

Archaeologist Awarded Esteemed Fellowship

By Deserae E. del Campo
Traci Ardren is the first UM faculty member to be awarded the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection Fellowship in Washington, D.C.

Traci Ardren, a professor in the Department of Anthropology, has been awarded a residential fellowship at the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection in Washington, D.C. Administered by the trustees for Harvard University, Dumbarton Oaks supports research and learning in Byzantine, Garden and Landscape, and Pre-Columbian studies through fellowships, internships, meetings, and exhibitions.

Ardren is the first University of Miami faculty member to be awarded the nine-month Pre-Columbian fellowship, which starts in January 2019. She will spend the spring semester researching a new monograph on Classic Maya perceptions of nature and “soft” cloth, paper, and basketry technologies that relied on the plant knowledge of older women. Her research is entitled, “Go in Pairs, Intertwined: Soft Technologies and the Role of Plants in Classic Maya Identity.”

“I am very proud to be the first faculty member from UM to hold this fellowship because Pre-Columbian studies is important to this University and to our local community,” said Ardren. “UM’s Richter Library and Lowe Art Museum both have large holdings of Pre-Columbian materials. I have used these in my research, and I try to make them better known within the scholarly community. Obviously, we live in a city where there is a strong interest in the ancient cultures of Latin America, so I am proud to represent Miami, more broadly speaking, at Dumbarton Oaks.”

An anthropological archaeologist with interests in New World prehistoric cultures, Ardren focuses her research on issues of identity and other forms of symbolic representation in the archaeological record, especially the ways in which differences are explained through gender. She currently directs the Matecumbe Chiefdom Project, which looks at the political organization and environmental adaptation of the Pre-Columbian occupants of the Florida Keys.

She is also co-director of the Proyecto de Interacción Política del Centro de Yucatán, at the Classic Maya site of Yaxuna in the Mexican state of Yucatán, where she is investigating the ways ancient road systems enabled the flow of information and ideas.

As consulting curator for Mesoamerican art, Ardren has curated many exhibits at the Lowe, including “The Jaguar’s Spots: Ancient Mesoamerican Art from the Lowe Art Museum” in 2010, “Flowers for the Earth Lord: Guatemalan Textiles from the Permanent Collection” in 2006, and most recently, “Kay Pacha: Reciprocity with the Natural World in the Ancient Art of the Andes” in 2016.

“Dumbarton Oaks has access to all the materials in the Harvard University system, which includes hundreds of years of unpublished papers by some of the most important scholars in the history of Pre-Columbian studies, so I look forward to digging into those,” said Ardren. “There are also ancient objects in their collection that I can’t wait to examine in person. Finally, I will be part of a small group of scholars who meet over lunch to discuss their research progress. As someone who works largely alone here at UM, I am looking forward to those conversations!