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-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 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, service, and respect.
Professor Bennett’s publishes at the intersections of language revitalization, feminism, social justice, and political economy. 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. Her articles appear in Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, International Journal of Women’s Studies, Maya America, and more.
Professor Bennett’s book, Good Maya Women: Migration, Clothing, and Language Revitalization in Highland Guatemala, 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.
In collaboration with students from Connecticut College, Professor Bennett has a research project investigating volunteer motivations and experiences at the New London Food Pantry. Her activist approach and work with students has garnered more than $30,000 in funding for the Pantry through grants. Additionally, Prof. Bennett regularly collaborates with the Immigration Advocacy and Support Center through her classes and challenges students to connect theory and practice through these community engaged experiences.
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
Transmigrants in New England
Anthropology of Tourism
Anthropology of Globalization, Transborderism, and Migration
Forthcoming. Good Maya Women: Migration, Clothing, and Language Revitalization in Highland
Guatemala. University of Alabama December 2021.
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. https://doi.org/10.5070/T33246957
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.
2019 Diversity in Latin America: Indigenous Issues Today. Coast Guard Academy, New London, CT. November 15, 2019.
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 Mujeres móviles y el idioma Kaqchikel: normas y contradicciones del uso del Kaqchikel en pueblos de origen. Congreso de estudios mayas, Guatemala City, Guatemala, July 6, 2017.
2017 Migración Kaqchikel y la identificación con la etnia y el idioma. Guatemala Scholars Network, Antigua, Guatemala, July 13, 2017.
Box # ANTHROPOLOGY/Winthrop
270 Mohegan Ave.
New London, CT 06320