Graduate Students


Whitney Goodwin

Graduate Student

Heroy Hall 429

My main research interest is learning how people in the past who were living in border areas negotiated their identities. To do this, I take a holistic approach to studying pottery looking at the explicit messages sent through styles on ceramics but also examining what we can learn about identity through the foods that were prepared, cooked, and stored in those vessels. Choices about food, from what is edible to how dishes are prepared and served, can reveal a lot about group identity and affiliation.

My dissertation research explores identity among Prehispanic communities along the northern coast of Honduras during the Selin Period (AD 300-1000). These communities were positioned at the border of Mesoamerica and Lower Central America. Previous research on ceramic style in the region suggests that local affiliation shifted over time from north to south as part of an adept strategy to navigate the complex political and social landscape of the region through the promotion of an inclusive group identity. My project explores the actual implementation of that strategy by investigating communal feasting contexts where symbolically significant ceramics were used and incorporates new information about local identity and affiliation through a complementary study of foodways. Tracing changes in these traditions over time elucidates the ways in which these materials were articulated in practice to create enduring symbols of identity. Ongoing collaboration with the indigenous descendant community and Honduran anthropology students continues to provide new insights and directions for future research in the area.

Website: http://smu.academia.edu/WhitneyGoodwin

Entered program in 2011

Region of Study:

Lower Central America/Intermediate Area, Southeastern Mesoamerica; Northern Great Plains

Honors and Awards:

April 2017 P.E.O. Scholar Award, P.E.O. Foundation. $15,000
April 2016 Undergraduate Student Supervised Fieldwork Subsidy, National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH). $2,500
October 2015 Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant, National Science Foundation. $20,000
March 2015 Fulbright U.S. Student Award, U.S. Department of State. $19,225
May 2013 Graduate Student Research Award, Institute for the Study of Earth and Man, Southern Methodist University. $2,000
May 2012 Garry Weber Pre-Dissertation Award for Archaeology Doctoral Students, Southern Methodist University. $3,000


Goodwin, Whitney A., Alejandro J. Figueroa, and Erlend Johnson, editors (under contract) New Definitions of Southeastern Mesoamerica: Indigenous Interactions, Resilience, and Change. University Press of Colorado, Boulder.

Goodwin, Whitney A., and Kacy L. Hollenback (2016) Assessing Techniques for the Estimation of Original Firing Temperatures of Plains Ceramics: Experimental and Archaeological Results. Ethnoarchaeology 8(2): 180-204.

Wells, Christian E., and Whitney A. Goodwin (2014) Mundo Maya. In Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology, edited by Claire Smith, pp. 5098-5102. Springer, New York.

Figueroa, Alejandro J., Whitney A. Goodwin, and E. Christian Wells (2012) Mayanizing Tourism in Roatán, Honduras: Archaeological Perspectives on Heritage, Development, and Indigeneity. In Economic Encounters in the Age of Global Tourism, edited by S. M. Lyon and E. C. Wells, pp. 43-60. Altamira Press, Lanham.

Goodwin, Whitney A. (2011) Archaeology and Indigeneity, Past and Present: A View From the Island of Roatan, Honduras. Unpublished M.A. Thesis. University of South Florida, Tampa.


Membership in Professional and Honorary Organizations

Society for American Archaeology
Society for Applied Anthropology
American Anthropological Association
Phi Beta Kappa National Honorary Society
Lambda Alpha National Honorary Society