3 Questions for ...
Associate Professor of History
Euraque has been appointed director of the Honduran Institute of
Anthropology and History (IHAH) in Tegucigalpa, Honduras for two
to three years, beginning July 1, 2006.
responsibilities will be associated with your position in Honduras?
There are many, of
course, but among the key ones will be to conserve, protect, and
restore the historic monuments, archaeological sites, and the many
intangible cultural traditions of Honduras. By law, the institute is
charged with that responsibility and, as the director, I will work
to ensure that we do that. Along with the administrators of the
institute, it is my job to protect those things that the Honduran
government considers the cultural heritage of the country
There are important
archaeological sites in Honduras—Mayan sites, for example—that are
of interest to experts from around the world. There are “world
cultural heritage” sites, which are protected by UNESCO [United
Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization]. When
archaeologists come to dig in those places, there are specialists at
the institute who oversee the digs to make sure that everything is
done correctly and in the right place, and that when cultural
treasures are found that they remain in Honduras. In that sense it
is a policing responsibility, but a very delicate one.
interesting responsibility involves designing policy that integrates
all the many facets of the institute. There can be competing
interests within any organization. People in different positions
naturally have different agendas. A group of archaeologists and
museum professionals, or ethnographers and historians, may have very
different perspectives on a particular artifact, about what to do
with it or how best to display it. In Honduras, like everywhere,
there are a range of audiences who might want access to certain
materials. So part of my job will be to integrate and manage these
competing interests toward a common goal. I have to think about and
design policy that takes all these things into account.
There is also a
diplomatic component when it comes to dealing with the embassies and
consulates of various countries whose citizens or representatives
may want access to an artifact or some information. The institute
must be both firm and flexible at the same time.
It is a very dynamic
position that will no doubt present many challenges.
opportunities might become available for Trinity students as a
result of this arrangement?
I’ve already begun
to make some arrangements that will benefit our students. Kenyon
College has a study-abroad program in Honduras focusing on
archaeological excavation—they’ve been sending students there for 20
years—and there are two archaeologists at Kenyon who, of course,
know that I’m the new director of the institute.
I have proposed that
our two schools form a partnership and start a joint project there.
Kenyon’s program is what is called an “island” program, meaning that
the students go and do their excavations, they’re trained in field
work, they learn a little Spanish, and they’re taken on a few
excursions here and there but they see almost nothing of Honduras
other than the field sites that they use. Trinity’s study-away
programs, by contrast, are exactly the opposite. Our programs,
philosophically and in principle, are designed to engage our
students with the broader society. So, I told the Kenyon folks that
Trinity is prepared to work with them to expand their program. They
will benefit from my official and academic contacts in the country
as well as Trinity’s experience doing this in other parts of the
world. We will benefit from partnering with an established program.
It’s this sort of collaborative effort that should be good for
I can also use the
connections and agreements that exist between the IHAH and similar
organizations throughout the region to expand some of Trinity’s
programs that are already on line. For example, we have a Global
Learning Site in Santiago, Chile, which does not have an
archaeological component, for whatever reason. I should be in a
position to help make arrangements for new and expanded programs
because of this appointment, if these are things that the College
wants to do. In other words, as the director of the institute and a
member of the Trinity College faculty, I’m hopeful that I can help
to enhance and enrich the study away opportunities for our
What are you most
looking forward to about living in Honduras and what will you miss
most about Trinity?
I’m looking forward
to the very smells and sensibilities that I have been writing about
for such a long time. I have published four books about Honduran
history; I’ve done research throughout the country, from the most
sublime archives to the most nondescript village in the middle of
nowhere. But, for the most part, I’ve written about Honduras when I
was away from Honduras. In a strange way that’s an alienating
process because, even though I was writing about Honduras, I
wasn’t writing in Honduras. This job—every document I read,
every person that I come into contact with, the sun that I see, the
food that I eat, the smells—are going to be about the intellectual
work that I have done for many years. That’s what I’m looking
miss the smallness of Trinity and the sense of collegiality that is
so prevalent on our campus. As a scholar, I can choose to either be
out there doing lots of things for the College or not. In my new
position, I won’t be able to decide not to do things. So I’ll miss
the freedom that comes with being an academic—opportunities to
develop new ways of doing things or being able to take the time to
think of things in different ways. I’m sure I’ll miss that freedom.
And, of course, people. I’ll miss seeing my colleagues and my
students on a daily basis.
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What they’re reading
Liz Burns M’93
Assistant Director of Special Academic Programs
Between book group
selections, I picked up Frank McCourt’s Teacher Man.
I hadn’t read the Pulitzer Prize-winning Angela’s Ashes
or his follow up, the autobiographical Tis, but I thought I
might like this most recent memoir of McCourt’s 30-odd years as an
English teacher in New York City public high schools.
disappointed. He’s a great story teller—funny and wry and masterful
with the language he struggled to teach to a few generations of
mostly indifferent students. You can feel the pain of the innocent,
bumbling young teacher man who has to rely more on his imagination
than on anything he learned in his college education courses.
McCourt’s descriptions of the classroom, like the jostling and
posturing of teenage boys entering the room, are eloquent, and he
captures the voices of students through the years: New Yorkese
blended with Italian, or Puerto Rican, or Chinese.
constantly lure him away from the lesson plan with questions about
his life in Ireland, and it’s clear to see that his later
autobiographical writing has its roots in the anecdotes and memories
he shared with students.
up for me, our Trinity Women’s book group selection, Nuala
O'Faolain’s true tale of another, and infamous, Irish-American,
The Story of Chicago May. Join us! We’ll meet sometime this
summer or early in the fall when O’Faolain may be on campus.
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