USC Problems Without Passports Course ANTH 400 - Maya Resilience: Conducting Past and Present Identities

USC Summer Course ANTH 450 - Field Research in Maya Archaeology

Taught by: Dr. Thomas Garrison, School of Anthropology, USC

Problems Without Passports Course Website.

ANTH 400 - Maya Resilience: Conducting Past and Present Identities

This Problems Without Passport course (ANTH 400) studies how the Maya people of Central America have forged a strong cultural identity in both the past and present. Archaeology has played an important role in these processes. On the one hand, data recovered from archaeological investigations teaches about the ancient Maya and their once great city-states. On the other hand, the modern Maya use the reconstructed, "tourist attraction" ruins as symbols of the antiquity of their cultural heritage and their connection to the lands now controlled by modern Guatemala. Through visits to archaeological sites, museums, and Maya communities students will engage with the complexities of issues relating to the frequently conflicting interests of indigenous cultural heritage and national economic development.

This course will immerse students in Maya culture past and present through lectures and visits to archaeological sites, museums, and modern Maya communities. One week of lectures prior to the trip to Guatemala will prepare students for their international experience. At ruins and museums in Guatemala we will see how the Maya are presented to the public, both nationally and internationally. During visits to modern Maya highland markets and towns we will witness how the modern Maya live today. Guest lectures and informed guided tours will help to enrich the experience. Readings, evening discussions, and short writing assignments will help students to engage with the complex issues being played out at the different places we visit. When we return to USC in the fall, students will make presentations based on a research paper that they write over the summer based on their international experience.

ANTH 450 - Field Research in Maya Archaeology

An associated summer course, ANTH 450 - Field Research in Maya Archaeology, will be available to a select group of students. This course allows students to participate in an archaeological dig in the Maya lowlands of Guatemala. It is by application only and must be taken in conjunction with the Problems Without Passport Course on Maya Resilience. Students will learn field methods skills as they are performed in research on the ancient Maya. Some of the skills learned will include: drawing and photographic documentation, horizontal excavation, total station survey, tunneling, and excavating monumental architecture. Students must have taken ANTH 202, 310, or 314 prior to the trip or receive permission from the instructor, and the course must be taken simultaneously with ANTH 400.

NOTE: Interested students will need to submit an application and a letter of recommendation from a USC faculty member to Thomas Garrison ( by March 27, 2014. An application is required for both ANTH 400 and ANTH 450. Both applications can be downloaded below.


ANTH 400: Tuition + $2891

ANTH 400 and 450: Tuition + $3916

The Summer Undergraduate Research Fund can help finance this course. You can find other funding options here.


Download ANTH 400 Application

Download ANTH 450 Application

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