OSEA-CITE: Ethnography of the Future / Interdisciplinary Cultural Anthropology / Study Abroad. Quetzil Castaneda, Juan Castillo Cocom, Christine Preble, Patricia Fortuny de Loret de Mola, ethnography yucatan, Edy Dzidz, Universidad Intercultural Maya de Quintana Roo, UIMQRoo, Jose Maria Morelos, Learn Maya language, learning Mayan language, eco tourism, Chichen Itza,

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Faculty and Research Associates

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Quetzil E. Castañeda, Director
Christine Preble, Assistant Director
Edy Dzidz, Program Assistant & Maya Instructor
Alicia Buckenmeyer, SELT Coordinator (2014)
Patricia Fortuny, Faculty Associate
Jennifer Mathews, Faculty Associate
Russel Yam Caamal, Community Associate
Victor Olalde, Community Associate
Spanish Instructor (2012), Gabrielle Acquaro
SELT Coordinator & Spanish (2013), Meg Cychosz
SELT Coordinator (2012), Ashley Sherry
SELT Coordinator (2011), Matt Breines
SELT Coordinator (2010), Megan Solon

Founding Director and Associate Professor, OSEA

Quetzil E. Castañeda
PhD 1991, University at Albany, SUNY
BA 1983, Cornell

Founding Director and Associate Professor

Research Associate in Anthropology and
Lecturer in Latin American & Caribbean Studies (CLACS), Indiana University

812-669.1369 office
skype account name "quetzil"

» Research
» Teaching
» Publications
» Grants and Awards
» Download current vita (pdf)

Quetzil Castañeda founded and directed the independent Field School in Experimental Ethnography (1997-2000) as a way for undergraduate and graduate students to get on-site, hands-on training in ethnography. The Field School gave student researcher-participants the opportunity to conduct collaborative team research in three areas: the transcultural dynamics of teaching English to Maya children, the community history of Pisté in relation to 100 years of anthropological presence, and the contemporary Maya art of Chichén Itzá. The Field School was supported in part by a major grant from the Fideicomiso Mexico-USA, a bi-national organization formed by the Rockefellar Foundation, Bancomer Cultural Foundation and the Mexican Fondo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes (FONCA).

In 2003, Castañeda and Dr. Juan Castillo Cocom collaborated to create the Open School of Ethnography and Anthropology as a non-degree training program focusing on field study abroad programs. In addition to providing anthropological training programs, OSEA also develops and sponsors research conferences and publishing projects.

You may also visit Quetzil's profile on Academia.edu

Assistant Director, OSEA

Christine Preble
PhD 2009-present: University at Albany, Albany, NY. Cultural Anthropology.

MA, 2008: University at Albany, Latin American, Caribbean, and Latino Studies. 

BA, 2006: Siena College, Loudonville, NY. Spanish Education. 

Assistant Director of OSEA and Ethnography Field School Coordinator (2011 - present)


» Read More About Christine

Current Vita

Christine Preble is a doctoral student of cultural anthropology at SUNY Albany. Her MA thesis and short documentary film, North America’s Caribbean Cruise Vacation: The Globalized Authentic, focuses on the globalizing forces of the North American cruise ship industry in the Caribbean. Currently embarking upon dissertation fieldwork in Cozumel, Mexico, she hopes to to spread awareness of the reality of the cruise ship industry and its effects on local populations to help foster mutual understanding between host and guest as well as working closely with residents of host communities to foster positive social and economic change.

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Program Assistant and Maya Language Instructor

Edber Dzidz Yam
2010- 2013, Licenciatura  (BA) en Lengua y Cultura, Universidad Intercultural Maya de Quintana Roo

Lic Tesis:
" Recuerdos para Olvidar: Antropólogos en el Tusik del Siglo XX "

OSEA Program Assistant and
Maya Instructor (2012- present)


More About Edy Below

Edy Dzidz combines native, first language knowledge of Maya with a strong anthropological imagination and curiousity of cultural diversity. He has been studying Maya language with UIMQRoo professors where he has developed a great appreciation for the varieties of langauge teaching strategies in terms of performance, interaction, and bodily learning methodologies. As well Edy great interest in the varieties of Maya language not only as dialectical variations across the peninsula from Xul, Yucatan to Bacalar, but in terms of the meta-linguistic strategies about the correct grammar rules, writing conventions, spoken forms, and etymologies. He is voraciously reading up on all the debates about orthographies and syntax. His concern is less what is the correct syntax or writing convention, but what are the reasons for choosing this or that criterion in order to say that this syntax or that orthography rule is the best/correct. Edy is going to be a leading Maya scholar on language and culture. We have the great benefit to be able to bring him on board OSEA to join the Maya teaching staff.

Edy completed his BA or Licienciatura Thesis in August 2013. His thesis is an ethnographic and historical study of memory in the town of Tusik, Quintana Roo. His project was a Community Action Research project in Anthropology in which he worked with the elders of the community of Tusik to recreate new and old memories among community members. OSEA participants benefit from Edy not only in the classroom but by leading us on tours to his native hometown of Tusik to talk with community leaders about what they imagine is the past, present and future of Tusik. Maya language immersion students will be able to opt for spending 2-3 nights or up to a week living in Tusik with Edy as their cultural and language mentor.

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OSEA SELT Spanish Program

Gabrielle Acquaro Delatorre
BA 2012 Indiana University
Pre-Med, Anthropology Major and Concentration in Second Language Pedagogy

Currently in Medical School at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana Med School, since Fall 2012 --

OSEA 2010 Alum

OSEA Spanish Language Instructor


» Read More About Gabrielle Below

Gabrielle joins OSEA staff as a Spanish instructor in the 2012 summer.  She is OSEA 2010 Alumni finishing her BA in Anthropology at Indiana University in May  2012. As a pre-Med anthropology major, Gaby chose to do an OSEA research project in which she worked with pregnant Maya women in the community to explore the kinds of medical care that they chose — traditional midwifes, massagers, healers, and allopathic medicine.  This research has helped Gaby develop a more profound understanding of the cultural and social bases and contexts of health care which she plans on incorporating into her future career as an MD.

Gaby grew up in a Hispanic household and is a native bilingual speaker with perfect fluency in both Spanish and English. With family in Guadalajara her experience in Yucatán was an opportunity to experience first-hand the cultural and social diversity of México.  In addition to her anthropology and pre-Med studies, she minored in Spanish.  Currently, she is taking courses on teaching foreign and second languages to adults.  Gaby is excited to implement various teaching and learning techniques in the intensive Spanish program. Specifically, she interested in teaching the students communicative proficiencies in Spanish that will allow them to maximize their social and personal relationships in Pisté, their learning in the OSEA program, and their research projects goals.


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Meg Cychosz
PhD student in Linguistics, Indiana University

M.A. Hispanic Linguistics, Indiana University, 2014 (expected) B.A. Spanish, French, English, Magna Cum Laude and High University Honors, 2012, Butler University


Meg Cychosz is a graduate student in Hispanic Linguistics at Indiana University. After completing a triple degree program in languages at Butler University that included fieldwork on the Catalan language in Spain and France, Meg decided to pursue Hispanic linguistics at the graduate level. She is particularly interested in Hispanic sociolinguistics, anthropological linguistics, as well as Spanish in contact with indigenous languages such as Quechua and Maya. She is currently working on a research project on the innovative use of copulas in the language contact environment of Lima, Peru. Meg currently works as an Associate Instructor in the Spanish and Portuguese department of Indiana University.

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Community Associates and Liaisons

Russel Yam Caamal
Licensed Tour Guide at Chichén Itzá

Community Liaison


Contact Russel to arrange for a tour of Chichén

» Read More About Russel

Victor Olalde
Licensed Tour Guide at Chichén Itzá

Housing Assistant and Community Liaison
Owner and Mananger of Posada Olalde


Contact Victor to arrange for a tour of Chichén or for lodging at the Posada Olalde
011-[52] (985)-951-0086 landline

» Read More About Victor

Victor Olalde, a resident of Pisté, has been a close associate of Drs. Castañeda and Castillo Cocom for over 20 years. Victor is a licensed tour guide and the owner-operator of the Posada Olalde, which OSEA summer students use as home base while living and working in Chichén Itzá. Victor is a self taught polyglot. In addition to his native Maya and Spanish, he is fluent in English and German and can converse in Italian. Currently he is learning Japanese. Victor's base work is to provide tours to German tourists that arrive in prearranged groups. But he is also available for independent tourists and for providing tours throughout the Yucatán. He has provided special tours to a variety of celebrities and political personages, including Jeb Bush's wife. In addition to this work, Victor is also available for OSEA students as a special cultural liaison, friend, and resource.


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Teaching English Language Coordinators
SELT is the OSEA School of Experimental Language Training

Alicia Buckemeyer
PhD, 2013-present: University of Virginia. Spanish
MA, 2013: University of Virginia. Spanish
BA, 2009: Ohio University. English

2014 SELT Coordinator and ESL Instructor

Alicia Buckenmeyer is in her first year of
PhD coursework in Spanish at the University of Virginia, where she teaches beginning and intermediate undergraduate Spanish courses
and also volunteers as an ESL teacher in the community. She fell in love with the Yucatan while studying abroad in Mérida as an undergraduate, and since then she has kept returning in various capacities: as a tourist, an English teacher, and even a Maya language student at OSEA!  She is very excited to have
the opportunity to be back among her friends in Pisté  and to work towards developing methods of teaching English that pull on the community's cultural knowledge to make the learning experience both meaningful and practical.

Her academic interests include contemporary Latin American literature and its political and social repercussions, gender studies, identity, languages and cultures in contact, and translation. She is preparing to write a dissertation at least partially focusing on texts written in Maya published alongside authors' self-translations into Spanish. Her non-academic interests include dancing, outdoors activities, and long chats over coffee or drinks


» Read More About Alicia

Ashley Sherry
Ph.D. 2011-present. University of Massachusetts Amherst, Anthropology

M.A. 2011 University of New Mexico, Anthropology (Ethnology and Linguistics)

B.A. 2009 Univ. Massachusetts Amherst, magna cum laude, Major: Spanish, Anthropology; Minor: Latin American Studies

2012 SELT Coordinator and Spanish Instructor


» Read More About Ashley
Ashley Sherry is a doctoral student of University of Massachusetts Amherst. Ashley has lived and studied extensively in both Mexico and the United States. In 2009, she received a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish and Anthropology with a certificate in Latin American Studies from UMass. She held a teaching assistant’s position in the Spanish department and served as an English as a second language course assistant for Spanish speaking adults at the local Boys and Girls Club. Ashley developed research skills through community outreach, course work, an international exchange program in Mexico, and ethnographic field excursions focused on human rights in the Dominican Republic and Argentina. She also worked as a research assistant for the Commonwealth Alliance for Information Technology Education. From 2007-2009, Ashley held a position as health educator on a 5-year National Institutes of Health funded study of exercise during pregnancy and the risk of gestational diabetes.

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Matt Breines
BA State University of New York Plattsburgh
Career Guidance Counseler, NYC High School

2011 SELT Coordinator and Teaching Instructor

Matthew Breines recently received his Bachelors degree in Anthropology from SUNY Plattsburgh.  In the summer of 2009, Matthew took part in the OSEA ethnography field school and lived in Pisté, Yucatán, for seven weeks.  Matthew’s study focused on the consumerist practices of tourists in the archeological zone Chichén Itzá.  After working with the artisans and vendors in Chichén Itzá in 2009, Matthew is repaying his “fieldwork debt” by having returned to Pisté and offering language courses in the community.  Besides teaching English to vendors, tour guides, and children, Matthew spends his days exploring the Yucatán region, studying the local Maya language, and participating in the daily, local life-style.   

» Read More About Matt

Megan Solon
Ph.D. in Hispanic Linguistics, Indiana University, expected 2014
M.A. in Spanish, 2007, Miami University
B.A. in Spanish, Summa Cum Laude and with University Honors with Distinction, 2007, Miami University

2010 SELT Teaching English Coordinator and Spanish Instructor


» Read More About Megan

Megan Solon is a doctoral student in Hispanic Linguistics at Indiana University. After two years of graduate training in linguistic anthropology, Megan decided to pursue Hispanic linguistics with an interest in Spanish second language acquisition as well as in contact between Spanish and the indigenous languages of Latin America. She is currently working on a project on the acquisition of the present progressive aspect in Spanish as a second language by native English speakers. She also has an interest in studying pragmatic variation in Spanish brought about by its contact with languages like Maya. Megan earned her MA in Spanish from Miami University in 2007 and worked as Associate Faculty in Spanish at Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne in 2007-2008.

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OSEA Research Associates, Affiliate Teaching Faculty, and Visiting Lecturers

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Dr. Patricia Fortuny Loret de Mola
PhD 1995, University College London

Facultad de Antropologia
CIESAS Peninsular
Merida, Yucatan, Mexico


» Read More About Patricia

Patricia Fortuny Loret de Mola is social anthropologist with specialization in religion and immigration. In addition to fieldwork in Yucatán and Jalisco, México, she has directed and participated in national and international research projects with immigrant and religious communities in San Francisco, Atlanta, Houston, and Immokalee, Florida. She pioneered the ethnographic study of Protestantism in the Yucatan and is the leading expert on the church Luz de Mundo, which was founded in Mexico and then "exported" or "globalized" around the world, including the USA. Fortuny Loret de Mola is a Professor and Researcher (Title C) at CIESAS, where she has worked since 1988. She is the author of two books and more than 60 articles and chapters on religion, conversion narrative, secularization, and transnational migration. She is a National Researcher of the Sistema Nacional de Investigadores Nivel II and the recipient of Fulbright and Rockefeller Foundation Grants.


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Jennifer Mathews

Ph.D. Anthropology at UC Riverside

OSEA Research Affiliate
Associate Professor, Trinitiy University



» Read More About Jennifer
» Webpage

Jennifer Mathews is an Associate Professor of Anthropology in the Sociology and Anthropology Department at Trinity University. She received her Master's and Ph.D. in Anthropology, with a specialization in Maya Archaeology, from the University of California at Riverside. Her undergraduate degree was in Anthropology from San Diego State University. She co-directs the Yalahau Regional Human Ecology Project in Quintana Roo, Mexico and has been conducting fieldwork and archival research in the Mexico since 1993. Her research has focused on the ancient Maya, studying roads, architecture, and the layout of sites. More recently she has been focusing on the historic period of the Yucatán Peninsula (1550-1950), looking at the extraction of commodities like chicle (the base for chewing gum) and logwood (used for dye), and the production of sugar and rum. She has written several journal articles and book chapters, and edited two books on Maya archaeology: "Quintana Roo Archaeology" (with Justine Shaw, http://www.uapress.arizona.edu/BOOKS/bid1635.htm) and "Lifeways in the Northern Maya Lowlands: New Approaches to Archaeology in the Yucatán Peninsula" (with Bethany Morrison, http://www.uapress.arizona.edu/BOOKS/bid1672.htm). She has recently published the book, "Chicle: Chewing Gum of the Americas - From the Ancient Maya to William Wrigley" (http://www.uapress.arizona.edu/BOOKS/bid2059.htm)


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In addition to the faculty listed here, OSEA programs involve faculty and guest lecturers with diverse research and teaching interests to support our programs pedagogical and research interests.




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