Northwestern Events Calendar


(Meta)physical access to water: An ontologically-oriented political ecology at Aventura, Belize

When: Wednesday, December 9, 2020
10:00 AM - 11:00 AM Central

Where: Online

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Elizabeth Morrissey  

Group: Equality Development and Globalization Studies (EDGS)

Category: Lectures & Meetings


EDGS Graduate Lecture Series

Kacey Grauer, PhD Candidate, Anthropology

The ancient Maya city of Aventura, Belize tells a striking story of resilience. While many other Maya cities were being abandoned ca. 750-1100 CE in part due to intensive regional drought, Aventura experienced its height of population. The central question this paper addresses is: How did water management practices at Aventura contribute to its endurance? In order to answer this, Grauer examines access to different qualities of water across households of diverse socioeconomic status. In ancient Maya ontologies, water was a powerful social force in the landscape, necessary for both bodily functions and cosmological connections. Through an examination of data derived from pedestrian survey and archaeological excavation at Aventura, she demonstrates that commoners and elites alike had access to the equally important metaphysical and biophysical aspects of water at their respective households. Additionally, these households had access to both properties of water even at the height of drought, when the substance would have been at its most scarce. She argues that open access to two different yet vital aspects of water contributed to Aventura’s longevity in the midst of drought.

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