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EKU Foundation Professor Dr. Kelli Carmean retires

Four professors pose for photo
Dr. Kelli Carmean, a Professor of Anthopology at EKU for 30 years, retired in 2023. Most recently, Dr. Carmean and EKU students studied abroad to Scandinavia to explore Viking Archaeology.
Dr. Carmean joined the EKU faculty in 1993, served as Anthropology Coordinator from 2003 to 2010, and as department chair from 2009 to 2015. She served as faculty liaison for the University’s Education Abroad program and was active in the Kentucky Institute for International Studies, teaching and directing programs in Peru, Barcelona, and Scandinavia.
Dr. Carmean earned a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from the University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, and her Ph.D. degree in anthropology from the University of Pittsburgh. Her dissertation investigated differing residential architectural labor expenditures as an expression of social structure at Sayil, a major Maya site in the Yucatan Peninsula. Before coming to EKU, she was a President’s Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley. In 2002, Dr. Carmean published a scholarly monograph entitled, Spider Woman Walks This Land: Traditional Cultural Properties and the Navajo Nation, which was recognized by The American Indian Quarterly as a “noteworthy success… not just as an anthropology or archaeology textbook but also as a study of Navajo cultural geography, history, and religion.” Dr. Carmean’s scholarship led to her selection to present the EKU College of Arts and Sciences Roark Distinguished Lecture in 2010; and she was a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute participant in 2011 Revisioning the Maya World: New Directions in Scholarship and Teaching.
Dr. Carmean has also pursued an active literary career by writing novels that connect to aspects of her research and expertise. Her first such work of archaeological fiction was Creekside: An Archaeological Novel, which alternates between the present and life on the early Kentucky frontier. Her newest work, House of the Waterlily: A Novel of the Ancient Maya World, tells the long and turbulent life story of fictional Lady Winik. Through Winik, readers experience the luxury of palace life, and an era engulfed in ever-increasing turmoil. Winik paints a time of ambition and greed, of courage and survival, and a profoundly different perception of the universe. House of the Waterlily portrays Maya women and men of differing social class as they sought to navigate their rapidly changing world. It is a story of the steadfast persistence of culture, and one that brings alive a people and an era remote from our own, yet recognizably human all the same.
Students and professor pose in photo at party

Published on August 13, 2023

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