Garrett W. Cook, Ph.D.

Professor of Anthropology

Ph.D., Anthropology, State University of New York at Albany, 1981
M.A., Anthropology, State University of New York at Albany, 1975
B.A., Anthropology, State University of New York at ALbany, 1969

Major Area of Research
Religion and Expressive Culture, Ethnography/Social Anthropology, Maya Culture and Community

Current Courses
ANT 1305 Introduction to Anthropology
ANT 1360 Religion, Magic & Witchcraft:
      The Anthropology of the Supernatural
ANT 3350 Native North Americans
ANT 3375 Ethnographic Methods
ANT 4320 Culture, Personality and Identity
ANT 4325 Medical Anthropology
ANT 4360 Anthropology of Religion
ANT 4680 Field School in Cultural Anthropology

Born and educated in New York, I came to Baylor in 1990, to develop a field school in the Maya country of Central America. Though my teaching at Baylor no longer relates to my dual background I am also an archaeologist and have taught many field schools in New York and Texas, including Baylor archaeology field schools between 1999 and 2003, and I started and ran a cultural resource management business from 1985-1990. During those years I also served as a museum director.

I created and have directed the Baylor Anthropology Field School in Guatemala and have introduced over 100 Baylor students to ethnographic field work and the Maya people of Guatemala and Belize during twelve field seasons. My proudest professional accomplishments aside from the field school have been the publication of Renewing the Maya World, my book on Maya religion and expressive culture in 2000, and completion of a video documentary and ethnography of the Monkey’s Dance in Momostenango with my colleague Tom Offit, in 2008. I have long been interested in the stories that we humans tell and that we enact in public performances in our communities and through culturally shaped life courses. All my ethnographic research in Mayan communities has related to this interest; to the myths and rituals that give the most direct expression to the themes that we have created to make sense of the world and of our lives. Tom and I continue to work together, have given several collaborative presentations at national meetings, and recently (2013) co-authored a book, Indigenous Religion and Cultural Performance in the New Maya World, on the impacts of globalization on local Maya community, tradition, myth and ritual.

I was a cultural advisor and guide in the production of a professional video documentary about Maya traditions and dances in Guatemala (Gods and Kings, produced by Robin Blotnick and Rachel Lears in 2013 That was a lot of fun and I appear in the video several times in scenes erecting the monkey dance pole, and an interview in the cemetery.

I am currently working on a manuscript on the 20th century Mayan narrative tradition, and an outline for an anthropological interpretation of religion in culture, and I am contemplating a new local project, ethnographic research on intentional community construction among my peers within “lifestyle enclaves” of older Americans.

I have been married since 1983, and with my wife Lori, who is a nurse at Baylor, raised two children through the difficult teenage and into the early adult years. Our son graduated from Baylor several years ago. My wife and I recently purchased a very small Adirondack camp in New York, and are spending our vacations renovating it. I am an amateur herpetologist (snakes in particular have always fascinated me), and natural historian, and I seek personal renewal and fun through canoeing, motorcycling and playing the harmonica in several small and informal ensembles of acoustic musicians in Waco, Fort Worth and Dallas.

Selected Publications