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Kelli Carmean

Kelli Carmean

Kelli Carmean is EKU Foundation Professor 2017-19 and Professor of Anthropology in the Department of Anthropology, Sociology and Social Work. She joined the EKU faculty in 1993, served as Anthropology Coordinator from 2003 to 2010, and as department chair from 2009 to 2015. She currently serves as faculty liaison for the University’s Education Abroad program and is active in the Kentucky Institute for International Studies, teaching and directing programs in Peru and Barcelona.

Carmean earned a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from the University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, and her Ph.D. degree in anthropology from the University of Pittsburgh. Her dissertation investigated differing residential architectural labor expenditures as an expression of social structure at Sayil, a major Maya site in the Yucatan Peninsula. Before coming to EKU, she was a President’s Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley. In 2002, Dr. Carmean published a scholarly monograph entitled, Spider Woman Walks This Land: Traditional Cultural Properties and the Navajo Nation, which was recognized by The American Indian Quarterly as a “noteworthy success… not just as an anthropology or archaeology textbook but also as a study of Navajo cultural geography, history, and religion.” Dr. Carmean’s scholarship led to her selection to present the EKU College of Arts and Sciences Roark Distinguished Lecture in 2010; and she was a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute participant in 2011 Revisioning the Maya World: New Directions in Scholarship and Teaching.

Dr. Carmean has also pursued an active literary career by writing novels that connect to aspects of her research and expertise. Her first such work of archaeological fiction was Creekside: An Archaeological Novel, which alternates between the present and life on the early Kentucky frontier. Her newest work, House of the Waterlily: A Novel of the Ancient Maya World, tells the long and turbulent life story of fictional Lady Winik. Through Winik, readers experience the luxury of palace life, and an era engulfed in ever-increasing turmoil. Winik paints a time of ambition and greed, of courage and survival, and a profoundly different perception of the universe. House of the Waterlily portrays Maya women and men of differing social class as they sought to navigate their rapidly changing world. It is a story of the steadfast persistence of culture, and one that brings alive a people and an era remote from our own, yet recognizably human all the same.

From the jacket cover:

House of the Waterlily is an excellent introduction into the world of the Classic Period Maya in large part because Carmean is a fine storyteller who weaves her narrative as beautifully as a ‘fine-spun’ huipil. This book would be an excellent addition to the course reading list for undergraduate students who are studying the ancient Maya.” ~ Scott Simmons, UNC Wilmington.

“Although fiction, House of the Waterlily is a powerful platform from which to begin a discussion of vast catastrophic events in the context of daily life in the late Classic period of this fascinating pre-Columbian civilization.” ~ Rob Swigart, author, Xibalba Gate: A Novel of the Classic Maya.

Sponsored by the Department of Anthropology, Sociology, & Social Work, the Department of History, and the College of Letters, Arts & Social Sciences, and the Honors Program..


Published on November 16, 2017

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