Joyce Bennett

Joyce Bennett

Associate Professor of Anthropology

Joined Connecticut College: 2014

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


Ethnicity and identity performance

Language revitalization


Gender and sexuality

Social movements

Central and North America

Joyce Bennett is an anthropologist whose research and teaching focus on sociocultural and sociolinguistic issues in Central and North America, especially as they relate to social justice. She mostly focuses on the Kaqchikel Maya-speaking population of the Western highlands of Guatemala, but she also collaborates with ethnolinguistic groups throughout Guatemala and with Indigenous and other marginalized peoples in North America. She is an advocate of community engaged learning and regularly connects 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 and respect.

Her current research focuses on Maya women in Guatemala and their attempts to protect their traditional weavings through intellectual property rights. She is the recipient of a Fulbright U.S. Scholars award in 2022-2023 and an Engaged Research Grant from the Wenner-Gren Foundation, also in 2022-2023, which supports that work. She was the Central American Visiting Scholar at the David D. Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard University in the 2019-2020 academic year.

Professor Bennett publishes at the intersections of language revitalization, feminism, social justice, and political economy. Her articles appear in Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, International Journal of Women’s Studies, Maya America, and more. Professor Bennett’s first book, Good Maya Women: Migration, Clothing, and Language Revitalization in Highland Guatemala (University of Alabama Press, 2022), analyzes how indigenous women’s migration contributes to women’s empowerment in their home communities in Guatemala. Analyzing the life histories of migrant women exposes how women’s migration is the result of structural violence and how women subvert that violence, returning home to revitalize their indigenous Kaqchikel language and clothing. As women engage in revitalization work on a daily basis, they seek to earn the title of “good” women in their home communities. Using affect theory to analyze moments when women earn the title of “good” women highlights how women’s experiences of their activism gives them strength, even in a context where women’s activism continues to marginalize them in the broader Guatemalan context. Her book offers an analysis of neoliberal economic forces as more complex and perhaps even hopeful than traditional analyses. The ethnography promotes an understanding of Maya women’s lives and work outside of developmentalist, Westernized notions of empowerment and allows for a more nuanced scholarly analysis and representation of Maya women.

Courses Taught:

Foundations in Sociocultural Anthropology

Power and Inequality in a Global World

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

Anthropology of Globalization, Transborderism, and Migration


2022. Good Maya Women: Migration, Clothing, and Language Revitalization in Highland Guatemala. University of Alabama.

2020. “Mothering through Language: Gender, Class, and Education in Language Revitalization among Kaqchikel Maya Women in Guatemala.” Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 30(2) 196-212.  

2020. Bennett, Joyce and Ambrocia Cuma. “Maya-americanos en casa: Los efectos de la migración de Guatemala a los EEUU en la región Kaqchikel.” Maya America. 2:1, Article 20.

2020. Bennett, Joyce, Mike Doyle, and Margie Giacalone (CC ’18). “Community-Engaged Learning for Immigration Justice: Building Solidarity through Praxis.” Teaching and

Learning Anthropology Journal 3 (2) 28-46.

2019. “Comadre Work: Grassroots Feminism in a Kaqchikel Maya Town.” Journal of International Women’s Studies, 20 (6) 60-74.

2017. “I became more Maya”: International Kaqchikel Maya migration in Central America. Universitas Psycológica 16 (5): 1-13.

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

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

Recent Presentations:

2022    Mobile Maya Women and Materiality: Modern Migration, Clothing Revitalization, Affect, and Material Records. Moving Maya Conference. Paris, France. December 7, 2022.

2021    Caring through Clothing: Kaqchikel Maya Women's Ethnic Revitalization Work as Community Care. Association for Arts in the Present. October 29, 2021.

2019    Good Maya Women: Gender, Migration, and Ethnicity in Highland Guatemala. David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, Harvard University. October 28, 2019.

2019    Towards a Collective Future: Maya Identity, Ethnography, and Collaboration in the Kaqchikel Region. American Anthropological Association Meetings. Vancouver, CA. November 22, 2019.

2019    Community Engaged Learning in Time of Insecurity: Migration, Advocacy, and the Production of Knowledge. North Eastern Conference on Latin America Meetings, New London, CT, November 2, 2019.

2018    Indigenous Women’s Resilience via Clothing: ethnicity, womanhood, and migration among the Kaqchikel Maya. American Anthropological Association Meetings, San Jose, CA, November 16, 2018.

2018    Gender, Semiosis, and Conflict: Revitalizing Kaqchikel Maya in Interpersonal Relationships. ILCA/STILLA, Columbus, OH, October 27, 2018.

2017    Migración Kaqchikel y la identificación con la etnia y el idioma. Guatemala Scholars Network, Antigua, Guatemala, July 13, 2017.

Majoring in anthropology. 

Contact Joyce Bennett

Mailing Address

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


Winthrop 209