Doctoral candidate in Art History Catherine Popovici is a recipient of the Helen Watson Buckner Memorial Fellowship at Brown University’s John Carter Brown Library (JCB). During the two-month residency, Popovici will work on her dissertation research for the colonial Latin American component of her dissertation at the John Carter Brown Library. The JCB fellowship, which provides access to the JCB library and a stipend, is designed for scholars whose work focuses on the “colonial history of the Americas, North and South, including all aspects of the European, African, and Native American engagement.”
Popovici’s doctoral research focuses on Pre-Columbian art and architecture and explores the tension and compatibility between the surrounding natural world and city centers, an often oversimplified relationship when examining territories and urbanization practices. To do so, her dissertation relies on stelae and altar pairs in the Copán Valley of Honduras. During her fellowship, Popovici will complete dissertation research for an ethno-historical chapter of her dissertation, “Stones of Statehood: Art, Politics, and Placemaking in a Classic Maya Landscape.”
The ethno-historical portion of Popovici's dissertation will examine the functionality and provincial placement of early modern cross-shrines and sculptures in the landscapes of Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras. These early modern monuments—commonly placed within the landscape in isolated, yet revered, locations—exhibit direct links to the functionality and placement of a specific suite of ancient Maya stelae from Copán, Honduras, which are raised at a distance from other ceremonial monuments and are placed within the landscape. This perception of shared functionality lends insight into the role of ancient stelae in ceremonial ritual circuits that extended into the landscape, outside of the built environment. Writes Popovici,
By thinking beyond the temporal confines of ancient Mesoamerica, part of my dissertation seeks to recognize the continuity of various artistic and socio-cultural practices as anchored to the landscape.
Awarded to approximately 40 residential research fellows each year, the John Carter Brown Library fellowships are awarded to recipients from a broad array of disciplines and carry the potential for groundbreaking contributions to our understanding of the early Americas.