Jennifer P. Mathews, Ph.D.
- Professor , Sociology and Anthropology
Jennifer Mathews is a professor of anthropology in the sociology and anthropology department at Trinity University, where she teaches courses in archaeology and biological anthropology. She studies ancient and historical Maya archaeology, as well as issues of sustainability and tourism. She was named the 2019-20 recipient of the Dr. and Mrs. Z.T. Scott Faculty Fellowship in recognition of her outstanding abilities as a teacher and mentor and was selected as a Piper Professor (a state-wide teaching award for superior teaching at the college level) for 2020. Most recently, she was appointed to the Murchison Term Professorship for 2023-2026.
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 (1991). She has been conducting fieldwork and archival research in Mexico since 1993.
She has written journal articles, book chapters and four edited books on Maya archaeology: Quintana Roo Archaeology| UAPress (arizona.edu)
(co-edited with Justine Shaw), Lifeways in the Northern Maya Lowlands| UAPress (arizona.edu) (co-edited with Bethany A. Morrison), The Value of Things| UAPress (arizona.edu): Prehistoric to Contemporary Commodities in the Maya Region (co-edited with Tom Guderjan), and Construction of Maya Space | UAPress (arizona.edu): Causeways, Walls, and Open Areas from Ancient to Modern Times (co-edited with Tom Guderjan). She also published Chicle - Chewing Gum of the Americas| UAPress (arizona.edu): From the Ancient Maya to William Wrigley (with Gillian P. Schultz), and a co-authored volume with John Gust called The Bittersweet History of Labor and Life on the Yucatán Peninsula| UAPress (arizona.edu). She is currently working on a book about the deep history of the avocado, from its origins in Mesoamerica to their arrival in California in the nineteenth century.
Professor Mathews' research has focused on the ancient Maya, studying roads, architecture, and the layout of sites, although more recently she has been focusing on the post-Colonial period of the Yucatan Peninsula (1850–1950), looking at the extraction of commodities like sugarcane, chicle (the base for chewing gum), rum production, and avocados.
Professor Mathews works regularly with local museums such as the San Antonio Museum of Art (SAMA) to teach docents about the ancient cultures of Mesoamerica, and her students provide copies of their semester-long research papers on pieces in their collection including contributing text to their e-Museum descriptions. She has a service project every semester in her classes to raise money for a cause related to the class, such as the San Antonio Food Bank (Eating and Drinking in the 19th Century), adopting primates at the San Antonio Zoo (Seminar in Primatology) or supporting Maya women artisans in Mesoamerica (Ancient Art of Mesoamerica and Seminar on the Ancient Maya). She has also curated two exhibits "The Modern Maya: The Photographs of Macduff Everton" and "Crafting Maya Identity."