Global Issues Lecture Series to Discuss Maya Research in Guatemala

March 19, 2008

by Rebekah Hardage, student newswriter, (254) 710-6805

Dr. Andrew Scherer, assistant professor of physical anthropology at Baylor University, will discuss "Guerrillas, Looters, Narcotraffickers and United Fruit Archaeology: Modern Politics in the Study of the Ancient Maya," from 4 to 5 p.m. Thursday, March 20, in Draper 116 on Baylor's campus.

Scherer will explain the importance of finding a balance between advancing his scientific research on the Maya civilizations while keeping the interests of the Guatemalan government and local communities in mind.

"When the average person watches a TV special about archaeological research in other countries, they are usually presented with a romantic, oftentimes unrealistic, picture of that research," Scherer said. "What is missing from this picture are the many ethical and political challenges that are often involved in conducting international scientific research. In my talk, I will review some of these challenges, as they pertain specifically to conducting Maya archaeological research in northern Guatemala."

Since 2003, Scherer has served as the co-director of the Sierra del Lacandon Regional Archaeology Project, an international team of scientists investigating remnants of the ancient Maya civilization in the Sierra del Lacandon National Park of Guatemala.

Scherer's interest in the Maya civilization was sparked by a month-long course he took in Yucatan, Mexico, as an undergraduate student at Hamlin University. "We spent the month traveling through Mexico visiting various Maya archaeological sites, and I was hooked," Scherer said.

Scherer hopes anyone interested in conducting research abroad will be able to realize the importance of how their research will impact the people in their host country.

"Although this talk is a case study from archaeology in Guatemala, the themes are broadly relevant to any student or researcher that conducts investigations abroad," Scherer said.

Thursday's presentation is part of the Global Issues Lecture Series, sponsored by the Center for International Education. The lecture is free and open to the public.

For more information on the Global Issues Lecture Series, contact Lilly Fuertes at (254) 710-4531 or visit www.baylor.edu/cie.

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