Christine Eber, Professor Emerita of Anthropology, New Mexico State University

Why would an anthropologist write a novel?

In her talk, Christine Eber, Professor Emerita of Anthropology at New Mexico State University, will explore her reasons for writing a novel based on her research in Chiapas, Mexico with Maya women and their families since the mid 1980s. Her previous publications include an ethnography, Women and Alcohol in a Highland Maya Town: Water of Hope, Water of Sorrow (1995); and a life story, The Journey of a Tzotzil-Maya Woman: Pass Well Over the Earth, co-authored with “Antonia” (2011). She lives in Las Cruces, New Mexico where she is a founding member of Weaving for Justice, a volunteer organization that helps Maya weavers in Chiapas stay on their ancestral lands through selling their hand-woven textiles. Since retiring from teaching she has been writing poetry and volunteering in refugee shelters on the US/Mexico border. Her debut novel, When a Woman Rises, was published in August 2018 by Cinco Puntos Press in El Paso, Texas.  Her other projects are described at

From the foreword by anthropologist Diane Rus to When a Woman Rises:

“Why would an anthropologist decide to write a novel? Because Christine Eber is always pushing herself to help the rest of us understand the modern Tsotsil Maya people, people she has been learning from for over 30 years. What she describes in When A Woman Rises is not a static world of traditional people untouched by outside forces, but a community of men and women actively struggling to make their way in the world we all share, to live decent lives not only according to their interpretation of the lessons passed down to them but in response to the new challenges they must face each day. How can they promote peace and justice where so much inequality and violence exist? How can they survive economically when they don’t have access to necessary land or education? How can they do things differently without provoking the envy or hatred of neighbors? How can a woman rise in a way that helps men rise with her?”

All seminars in the series.