UNH Anthropologist Receives Fellowship to Establish Museum in Belize


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Thursday, March 2, 2017
Eleanor Harrison-Buck

Eleanor Harrison-Buck, an associate professor of anthropology at the University of New Hampshire has been awarded a $50,000 Whiting Public Engagement Fellowship to establish a public history museum in Belize that focuses on the Kriol (Creole) community.

DURHAM, N.H. – Eleanor Harrison-Buck, an associate professor of anthropology at the University of New Hampshire, has been awarded a $50,000 Whiting Public Engagement Fellowship to establish a public history museum in Belize that focuses on the Kriol (Creole) community.

More than a third of the population of Belize is part of the Kriol community descended from enslaved Africans brought to the country by Europeans in the 18th and 19th century.

“The legacy of British colonialism in Belize is strong: national school curricula, offerings at the national museum and a booming tourism market all tend to focus on the ancient Maya and colonial periods with little emphasis on the rich history and culture of the Kriol,” said Harrison-Buck. “I’ve conducted archaeological research in Belize for more than 25 years and helped to establish a temporary exhibit on Kriol culture last summer. It’s time there is a permanent record of this community.”

Harrison-Buck will work in collaboration with Kriol community leaders, educators, and local and regional authorities. The new museum, housed in a building donated by the town of Crooked Tree, will include local oral histories, artifacts, images and stories to present the culture to tourists, teachers and students.

Her research focuses on the classic Maya “collapse” period and subsequent Spanish and British colonial periods in Belize. Since 2009 she has directed the Belize River East Archaeology project, examining the history of the eastern watershed from preclassic to colonial times. Through her work she uncovered the history of the Kriol culture and heritage.

The Whiting Public Engagement Fellowship celebrates and supports faculty in the humanities who embrace public engagement as part of the scholarly vocation. Each fellow receives a semester of leave to pursue a public-facing project, as well as a $10,000 stipend toward project costs. Harrison-Buck was one of eight humanities scholars around the country to receive the fellowship. The goal of every Whiting-funded project is to engage a public audience in the richness of the humanities.

The University of New Hampshire is a flagship research university that inspires innovation and transforms lives in our state, nation and world. More than 16,000 students from all 50 states and 71 countries engage with an award-winning faculty in top ranked programs in business, engineering, law, liberal arts and the sciences across more than 200 programs of study. UNH’s research portfolio includes partnerships with NASA, NOAA, NSF and NIH, receiving more than $100 million in competitive external funding every year to further explore and define the frontiers of land, sea and space. 

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Eleanor Harrison-Buck, an associate professor of anthropology at the University of New Hampshire