When she was not teaching popular classes like Ethnobiology and Senses of Place, Carol Hendrickson conducted field research on Maya identity issues in the central highlands of Guatemala as she has done for more than 40 years. An expert on traje (Maya dress), her research focuses on the ways in which material culture non-verbally relates cultural meanings and provides insight into local understandings of ethnicity, gender, class, politics, national identity and global flows of information. In addition to using conventional field methods such as interviews, participant observation and photography, Carol advocates taking “visual field notes” as an important means for seeing—in the double sense of observing and understanding—in the field.
According to Carol, the study of anthropology is important “because it pushes us to see beyond ourselves.” In the classroom she wanted students to “learn to question our assumptions about our own world and come to understand people’s lives that initially might seem very different from ours.” She also encouraged her students to study abroad because “learning is a total experience, engaging a person’s mind, body, emotions and social relations on and away from campus.”
Carol’s book, Weaving Identities: Construction of Dress and Self in a Highland Guatemala Town (University of Texas Press), was selected by Choice as one of the best new books in anthropology in 1995. With Edward Fischer she co-wrote Tecpán Guatemala: A Modern Maya Town in Global and Local Context (Westview, 2002), which is currently being rewritten for publication in Spanish. In 1999 Carol was awarded a coveted Fulbright-Hays faculty research grant for her work in Guatemala. In addition to her own research trips, she has participated in several Marlboro faculty-student field study trips, including ones to Cuba, Vietnam, India, and Mexico. In May 2019 she was an AIRIE (Artist In Residence In Everglades) Fellow in Everglades National Park.
Carol served on the board of the Maya Educational Foundation from 2005 to 2016.
- “Threads.” In International Encyclopedia of Anthropology (Beyond Texts volume). Hilary Callan, ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons Ltd., 2018.
- “Drawing Insights in Vietnam.” Education About Asia 20(3) (2015): 64-66.
- “The Maya of Tecpan Guatemala.” In Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. London: Berg Publishers, 2010.
- “Ethno-graphics: Keeping visual field notes in Vietnam.” Expedition magazine, 52 (1) (2010): 31-39.
- “Visual fieldnotes: Drawing insights in the Yucatan.”Visual Anthropology Review 24(2) (2008): 117-132.