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Florida State University


Running a market stall in San Juan Chamelco, Guatemala is a high-status occupation, a status that you would want to hold onto, even after you've gone. To ensure that their families continue to hold this position in the local community, market women leave their stalls to individuals that they themselves identify as kin. "What's interesting," says Ashley Kistler, is that "kinship doesn't center on blood relatedness, but on those who share your residence and participate in the family's daily household life."

For her doctoral studies, Ashley has conducted several years of ethnographic fieldwork between Q'eqchi'-Maya marketers in northern and highland Guatemala. Working alongside these women in the marketplace and attending indigenous ceremonies, she examined local notions of kinship, status, and prestige, and how these relate to women's roles. For the Proyecto Arqueologico Waka, she served as liaison and ethnographer, fostering relationships between indigenous community members and archaeologists working in the region. La Mujer Verapacense recently accepted for publication Ashley's research article, "La Mujer Comericante de Chamelco."

For her master's work, Ashley performed research in Mexico, assisting a Florida State faculty member in collecting linguistic data from Ch'ol-Mayan migration narratives. Specifically, she focused on language contact phenomena, looking at speakers' use of loanwords and codeswitching throughout their discourse. Her research article, "Loanwords and Codeswitching: Distinguishing Between Language Contact Phenomena in Ch'ol," appeared in Alternate Routes: a Journal of Critical Social Research in 2005.

Besides her research and writing, Ashley has given several presentations—"Baskets, Beans, and B'oj: Q'eqchi' Market Women in San Juan Chamelco"—for the Anthropology department's Brown Bag Luncheons. To meet the requirements of the Certificate in Museum Studies Program, she coordinated the show, "Crossroads of Humanity: 50 Years of Anthropology at Florida State University," and was co-curator of the show, "Stories in the Sky: Archaeoastronomy of the Americas." She has also served as a translator for the Museo El Principe Maya and the National Folkloric Committee, both of which are in Coban, Guatemala.

A recent recipient of a Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant from the National Science Foundation, Ashley continues her research in Guatemala.

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