C of I history professor wins fellowship to study ancient Maya
2011. 06. 10.
The indigenous cultures of Mesoamerica have long been a fascination for College of Idaho history professor Dr. Mee-Ae Kim. This summer, Kim will get to study those cultures first-hand through a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Kim was one of 24 professors chosen to study archeological and historical sites in Southern Mexico and Belize as part of a five-week summer project entitled “Revisioning the Maya World: New Directions in Scholarship and Teaching.”
“I'm really excited about this opportunity,” said Kim, who arrives in Mexico on Sunday and returns to Idaho on July 18. “Modern Mexico is my area of specialization in teaching and the indigenous cultures of Mexico have always been a big interest of mine.”
Kim teaches a wide variety of history courses at C of I, including World Civilization, Modern Mexico, Colonial Latin America and classes focused on specific countries and cultures of Latin America. She plans to incorporate what she learns this summer into the Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica class she is scheduled to teach in the fall of 2012. The timing of the class – and of Kim's summer trip – is interesting because of the widespread apocalyptic obsession with the Mayan calendar, which some say predicts the end of the world in 2012.
“The Maya will be a big component of that class,” Kim said. “Part of the class and part of this NEH project will be dedicated to talking about the 2012 phenomena. I'm curious to learn more about it, but among the Mayan historians, there doesn't seem to be much belief that the world is going to end.”
Kim's trip includes stops at more than a dozen historical and archeological sites, including the Olmec center of La Venta and the Mayan ruins at Palenque and Chichen Itza. Kim and her colleagues will study architecture, engineering, art and other aspects of Mayan culture dating from the founding of the civilization to contemporary society. Many of the sites have been abandoned for more than 1,000 years.
“The place of the indigenous cultures is so pronounced in the Mexican contemporary and historical experience,” Kim said. “It's very different from here. The Maya still comprise a significant portion of the population in some regions, and their language and cultural practices remain very much alive.”
To learn more about the NEH project, visit www.ccha-assoc.org/mayaworld11/index.html. Kim can answer questions via email at email@example.com, although her internet access will be limited during her travels.
Founded in 1891, The College of Idaho is the state's oldest private liberal arts college. It has a century-old tradition of educating some of the most accomplished graduates in Idaho, including six Rhodes Scholars, three Marshall Scholars, and another ten Truman and Goldwater Scholars. The College is located on a beautiful campus in Caldwell, Idaho. Its distinctive PEAK curriculum challenges students to attain competencies in the four knowledge peaks of the humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and a professional field, enabling them to graduate with an academic major and three minors in four years. For more information on The College of Idaho, visit www.collegeofidaho.edu.