Joyce Bennett

Assistant Professor of Anthropology

Joined Connecticut College: 2014

B.A., American Studies, Music Performance, University of Richmond
M.A., Ph.D., Anthropology, Tulane University


Language revitalization

Ethnicity and identity performance


Gender and sexuality

Social movements

Joyce Bennett is an anthropologist whose research and teaching focus on sociocultural and sociolinguistic issues in Mesoamerica. She mostly focuses on the Kaqchikel-speaking population of the Western highlands of Guatemala, but she is also interested in other ethnolinguistic groups in the country and, most recently, some of their indigenous counterparts in North America. 

She is an advocate of community learning and is especially interested in connecting her courses to local communities in Southeastern Connecticut. Professor Bennett is an avid supporter of multi-method and cross-disciplinary approaches. She firmly believes that learning and scholarship must be connected to the people and places academics study through mutual collaboration, service and respect.

Professor Bennett’s research focuses on how return migration impacts the alignment of grassroots populations with ethnic social movements through the support and performance of indigenous ethnic markers in the Kaqchikel-speaking region of Guatemala. She is especially interested in how mobility and migration lead to the revitalization of the Kaqchikel Maya language and culture. Professor Bennett connects global processes like migration to local and national politics about multiculturalism and personhood.

In collaboration with students from Connecticut College, Professor Bennett has recently begun a research project on insecurity in New London. The team of researchers has investigated volunteer motivations and experiences at social safety net sites, including the Food Pantry and the Homeless Hospitality Center.

Professor Bennett has also collaborated with researchers at Tulane University to revive the Tunica language of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe in Marksville, Louisiana. Tunica’s last speaker died in the 1950s, but the Tribe has recently been working to revitalize the language. Professor Bennett is particularly interested in how cultural revitalization interacts with and supports the language revitalization efforts.

Professor Bennett has taught Foundations in Sociocultural Anthropology; Anthropology of Gender and Sexuality; Sex, Culture, and Power: Introduction to Women and Gender Studies; Insecurity, Human Trafficking, and Violence; Globalization, Transmigrants, and Migration; Language Death/Revitalization; Transmigrants in New England; Anthropology of Tourism; and History of Writing.

Recent publications

“Xujal runa’öj: The Cultural and Linguistic Consequences of Kaqchikel Maya migration to the US.” Ni sombras ni proscritos: Indigenous Presence in the Latina/o Community, Label Me Latino. 2015. (Forthcoming.)

“Traje’s future: gendered paths in Guatemala.” Native American and Indigenous Studies Journal.2(1): 67-89. 2015.

Review of Secrecy and Insurgency: Socialities and Knowledge Practices in Guatemala by Silvia Posocco (2014). Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press in American Anthropologist. 117(1): 202-203. 2015. 

““Puro Kaqchikel:” The discourse surrounding language standardization in highland Guatemala.” Fleur de Ling: Tulane University Working Papers. 1: 95-106. 2014.

Recent conference presentations

“La disociación del idioma Kaqchikel de sus hablantes: institucionalización y el “puro ch’ab’al.”” Undécimo Congreso de Estudios Mayas, Guatemala City, Guatemala, July 9, 2015.

Producing Culture: The Role of Culture in the Tunica Language Revitalization Project. American Anthropological Association Meetings, Washington, D.C., December 7, 2014.

"Shifting Gender Roles in Language Attitudes and Acquisition: The case of Kaqchikel Maya.” South Central Conference on Mesoamerica, New Orleans, LA, October 24, 2014.

"Tunica-Tulane Language Revitalization Project: History, Strategy, and Goals." Conference on Language Revitalization: Sleeping and Awakening Languages of the Gulf South, New Orleans, LA, March 7, 2014.

"Heads or Tales: Kaqchikel Maya women, the pan-Maya Movement, and managing the double standard." American Anthropological Association Meetings, Chicago, IL, November 20, 2013.

" "Puro Kaqchikel": The discourse surrounding language shift and policy in highland Guatemala." South-Central Modern Languages Association Meetings, New Orleans, LA, October 4, 2013.

"Returning home: reintegration of Kaqchikel-speaking war refugees post-2000." Latin American Studies Association Meetings, Washington, D.C., June 1, 2013.

"Getting involved: the politics of working with NGOs in a highland Maya community." Southwest Social Sciences Association Meetings, New Orleans, LA, March 29, 2013.

"Xiruch’ay, xinel el: gender-based violence, access to resources, and challenges for the future in a highland Guatemala town." Society for Applied Anthropology Meetings, Denver, CO, March 22, 2013.

Majoring in anthropology. 

Contact Joyce Bennett

Mailing Address

Joyce Bennett
Connecticut College
Box #5358
270 Mohegan Ave.
New London, CT 06320


Winthrop 209