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Department of Anthropology College of Arts and Sciences
One Discipline, Four Fields

Anya Peterson Royce

Anya

Chancellors' Professor, Anthropology Department
Chancellors' Professor, Comparative Literature
Adjunct Professor, Folklore and Ethnomusicology
Adjunct Professor, Russian and East European Institute
Adjunct Professor, Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies
Director, Library/Laboratory in Performaing Arts
External Examiner, Irish World Academy of Music and Dance

CV

Field Schools: Heritage and Cultural Diversity in Oaxaca, Mexico

(812) 855-0248 | Email | Office Hours

  • Ph.D. in Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley (1974)
  • D.Litt, University of Limerick (2010)
  • M.A. in Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley (1971)
  • B.A. in Anthropology and Honors in Humanities, Stanford University (1968)

Geographical Areas of Specialization: Mexico, Russia, and Eastern Europe

Topical Interests: Local and global identities, anthropology of dance, performance, popular theater, ethnic identity, aesthetics and creative processes, indigenous peoples of Mesoamerica, death belief and ritual, anthropological writing, anthropology of food

Profile

Returning to school after a career in dance, I discovered Anthropology and realized that understanding how people can and do craft satisfying lives for themselves, often against great odds and requiring passion, tenacity, and imagination, was worth pursuing.

As an undergraduate, I received a Ford Foundation scholarship to do research for a summer in Mexico on the transition of dance from village to theatre. I saw the Isthmus Zapotec of Juchitan, Oaxaca for the first time at a celebration of music and dance. I was astounded then by their vibrancy and self-confidence and, after forty-two years of fieldwork among them, I continue to be profoundly impressed by their ability to move with assurance in Mexico and the world and maintain a powerful sense of themselves as Zapotec.

My first book, published in Mexico in 1975, examined this question of identity, both ethnic and class, among the Zapotec of Juchitan. I have continued field research and writing about the Zapotec, dealing with such diverse topics as household economy, music, fiesta and dance, ethnicity, nationalism and the role of the intellectual, celebrations, and death. The Zapotec are an important focus for much of my teaching, believing, as I do, that ethnography and the intimate knowledge of a culture is the foundation of Anthropology. My most recent work examines Isthmus Zapotec beliefs about death and their ways of commemorating it. The book, Becoming an Ancestor: The Isthmus Zapotec Way of Death, was published by SUNY Press in 2011. An Isthmus Zapotec colleague is working on a translation of the book to be published in Mexico.

Ethnicity and identity, broadly speaking, have been other longstanding research and teaching interests. Questions such as how people define themselves and what contexts help or hinder that process came out of my work with the Zapotec but I have pursued those issues globally and comparatively, trying to develop a theoretical base for understanding those processes no matter what the group. While macro-level processes are crucial, so are the individual responses and balancing the two has been a goal for me  My 1982 book, Ethnic Identity: Strategies of Diversity (Indiana University Press) developed theories about the strategic use of ethnicity by societies and individuals.

The Anthropology of dance and performing arts brings together my initial experience as a dancer with my scholarly interest in what and how dance and the performing arts mean in a variety of cultures both past and present. Much of my research and writing lies in this field, first with a foundational book on the anthropology of dance (1977) now available in Greek, Korean, Polish and coming soon in Chinese.  A second edition was published with a new introductory chapter in 2002 by DanceBooks Ltd. This was followed by a more specialized book on the relationship of movement and meaning in ballet and mime (1984), and most recently, The Anthropology of Performing Arts: Artistry, Virtuosity, and Interpretation (2004). This book was published in Polish by Warsaw University Press in June 2011. I am currently working on a book, under contract with Wesleyan University Press, about the Pilobolus Dance Theatre, a contemporary dance company founded in 1971 by four men at Dartmouth College. It offers an opportunity to examine a unique (for professional arts organizations) creative process based on collaborative improvisation where each individual contribution is important, and the assumption that no specific training in dance is necessary. The communal basis for innovation as well as the democratic view of who can create makes Pilobolus rare in professional Western settings. They have more in common with persistent cultures and their processes for creating ritual and perpetuating themselves across shifts in the larger context. It is an opportunity to explore creativity, definitions of artistry and aesthetics, structural and cultural requisites for persistence and innovation, and the relationship between individual and community.

Honors & Awards

Honorary Doctorate, D.Litt. University of Limerick 2011.

2010 Outstanding Faculty Award, from the statewide Indiana Council for Continuing
Education, for outstanding teaching in Lifelong Learning programs.


 2010  Recognition, the Anya Peterson Royce Showcase Award, to be given annually to an
Arts Week event that expresses particular artistry in the fields of dance, music, or performance.


 Appointment, the External Examiner for the Masters Program in
Ethnochoreology, Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, 2010-2015.


Invited participant, Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, “Festive Arts,” Limerick, Ireland, 2009.


 Invited Speaker, International Conference, “Understanding Dance,” sponsored by the Ludwik Solski State Theatre School, Krakow, and the Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan, November 19―21, 2009, Bytom, Poland.


Invited participant, “Stepping Stones Towards the New Vision,”
Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, April 15―18, 2008, Limerick, Ireland


Phi Beta Kappa Couper Scholar, 2006―2007

Recipient, 2005 P.A. Mack Award for Distinguished Service to Teaching, awarded by the Faculty Colloquium on Excellence in Teaching (FACET), Indiana University, 2005

Teaching

E485 Art and Craft of Ethnography; E460/660 Creativity and Collaboration in the Arts; E463  Anthropology of Dance; E321 Peoples of Mexico; A221 Anthropology of Food; E600 Reading and Writing Ethnography; C104 Chocolate: Food of the Gods; E600 Topics in the Arts and Anthropology

Research

I am a social and cultural anthropologist whose research and writing is based on extended ethnographic field work with the Isthmus Zapotec of Juchitan, Oaxaca (1968 to present) and with dance cultures and communities in Europe, the United States, and Latin America (1968 to present).

Selected Publications

2011 Becoming an Ancestor: The Isthmus Zapotec Way of Death, State University of New York Press, November 2011

2011 Antropologia Sztuk Widowiskowych: Artyzm, Wirtuozeria,I Interpretacja w Perspektywie Międzykulturowej. Warsaw University Press, June 2011.

2011 Crónicas Culturales: Investigaciones de Campo a Largo Plazo en Antropología (2011) by Universidad Iberoamericana, ISBN# 978-607-417-165-5 and Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social, ISBN# 978-607-486-120-4.

2004  The Anthropology of performing Arts:  Artistry, Virtuosity, And Interpretation in a Cross-Cultural Context. Walnut Creek,CA: AltaMira Press.

2002  Chronicling Cultures:  Long-Term Field Research in Anthropology. R.V.Kemper and A.P Royce, eds.Walnut Creek,CA: AltaMira Press.

2002  The Anthropology of Dance, Repr.ed. with a new introduction by the author. London: DanceBooks, Ltd.

1990  Prestigio y afiliacion en una comunidad urbana: Juchitan, Oaxaca. Repr. ed. Translated by Carlos Guerrero. [Reprint of the 1975 edition in a collection of the most important books on indigenous peoples of Mexico]

1984  Movement and Meaning: Creativity and Interpretation in Ballet and Mime. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.


1982

Ethnic Identity: Strategies of Diversity. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

1977

The Anthropology of Dance. Bloomington and London: Indiana University Press (American Dance Guild Book Club selection for January, 1982) (reprinted 2000, with new introductory chapter by DanceBooks, Ltd.)

1975

Prestigo y Afiliación en una comunidad Urbana: Juchitán, Oaxaca. (Serie de Antropologia Social #37) Mexico, D.F.: Instituto Nacional Indigenista. (reprinted in 1991)

Articles

2008

“Voices of the True Peoples: Indigenous Mexican Poets and Writers for the Theater.” Review essay discussing Poetry and Theater, Vols. 2 and 3 of Words of The True Peoples—Palabras de los Seres Verdaderos: Anthology of Contemporary Mexican Indigenous-Language Writers, edited by Carlos Montemayor and Donald Frischmann (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2007). e-misférica 5.2(Hemispheric Institute for Performance and Politics, New York, N.Y.).

2008

“Dance.” In International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, 2d ed., edited by William A. Darity, Jr., 2:223―25. Detroit, Mich.: MacMillan Reference USA.

2007

“Dance.” In The Encyclopedia of Sex and Gender, edited by Fedwa Malti-Douglas. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Thomson-Gale.

2005


“Conclusions.” In Anthropologie de la danse: Genèse et construction d’une discipline, edited by Andrée Grau and Georgiana Wierre-Gore, 35-41. Pantin, France: Centre National de la Danse.

“Prólogo.” In Juchitán: Testimonios de un pasado mágico, by Gonzalo Jiménez López, 5- 7. Oaxaca de Juarez, Oax.: Instituto Oaxaqueño de las Culturas/CONACULTA/Delegación Regional de Tehuantepec/PACMYAC.

2002

With RV Kemper, " El Proyecto Etnografico y la Teoria Antropologico," in Homenaje por el Profesor Fernando Camara Barbachano, Mexico , DF, INAH Coleccion Cientifica, pp.139-148.

2002

With RV Kemper, "Cuestiones Eticas para los antropologos sociales en Mexico : Una perspectiva norteamericano a lo largo plazo," Boletin, Colegio de Etnologos y Antropologos Sociales, A.C., #4, Mexico DF, CEAS, pp.2-11.

2002

[with Robert V. Kemper] “Long-Term Field Research: Metaphors, Paradigms, and
Themes.” In Chronicling Cultures: Long-Term Field Research in Anthropology, edited by Robert V. Kemper and Anya Peterson Royce, xiii–xxxviii. Walnut Creek, Calif.: AltaMira Press.

2002

"Learning to See, Learning to Listen: Thirty Years of Fieldwork with the Isthmus Zapotec," in Chronicling Cultures: Long-term Field Research in Anthropology, eds. RV Kemper and AP Royce, AltaMira Press, pp8-33.

Poetry published in Qualitative Inquiry (2002, 2004) and in the anthology A Linen Weave of Bloomington Poets (2002)

Poetry published in Qualitative Inquiry (2002, 2004) and in the anthology A Linen Weave of Bloomington Poets (2002)