Brian Stross



Department of Anthropology

University of Texas

Austin, Texas 78712


Office SAC 4.124


Fax  512-471-6535




I am a linguistic anthropologist who studies communication systems and

especially languages in use. I completed my PhD in Anthropology at the

University of California at Berkeley in 1969, with a dissertation on language

acquisition by Tzeltal Mayans, and got my first academic job at the University

of Texas at Austin, where I am currently a Professor of Anthropology.



Research Interests


I have broad interests in all four fields of anthropology, while specializing in

studying communication systems and especially languages in use. I am

particularly interested in meaning, metaphor, symbolism, writing, and the ways

in which cultural presuppositions are created in discourse. My geographic

interests are focused on indigenous languages and cultures of Mesoamerica,

including Mesoamerican iconography and epigraphy of the Classic Maya. I

have undertaken linguistic, ethnographic, and folklore research in several Mayan

and non-Mayan communities in Mexico and Guatemala, spending the most time

with Tzeltal Mayan speakers. I also do research and teach courses in the

anthropology of food and in ethnobotany, viewing these topics from the

perspectives of communication and language, and with attention to both

universals and the particulars.


I am currently conducting several research projects, including the following.

(1) Preparation of materials on indigenous languages and cultures in Mesoamerica,

from earliest times to the present, with a focus on Mayan and Mixe-Zoquean

language families in terms of culture, language prehistory, discourse, epigraphy

and iconography. This entails the production of Mayan and Mixe Zoquean

etymological dictionaries as part of Mayan and Mixe Zoquean language and

linguistic prehistory project once included in a database that I designed for a

Project Quest program development grant.

(2) Transcription, transliteration, translation and annotation of a Colonial Tzeltal

(Mayan) dictionary.

(3) Research ongoing concerning the anthropology of food: foods and their uses

for communication in varying social circumstances; feast and famine foods and

the messages they convey; cuisine; food plants, domestication, and language;

edible foam.

(4) Research on Mayan sacred geography, discourse and shamanism.

(5) Researching the role of lightning in Indigenous Mesoamerican religion and

in Andean South America.

(6) Research into the ethnobotany of saponin producing plants in Mesoamerica,

and ethnobotanical notes of the plant genera Plumeria and Cnidoscolus.



I teach the following courses from the perspective of my Linguistic Anthropology specialization:

Culture and Communication,

Language in Culture and Society,

Speech Play and Verbal Art,

Introduction to Graduate Linguistic Anthropology,

Language and Prehistory,

Food in Thought and Discourse,

Introduction to Maya Hieroglyphic Writing,

Maya Hieroglyphic Writing,

Symbolism, Iconography and Worldview

Introduction to Ethnobotany,

Indigenous Mesoamerica (Indians of Mexico and Guatemala)

Mesoamerican Ethnobotany,

Anthropology of Food (Foodways)


I hope someday to teach a course on

the Anthropology of Music,

as well as one on Ecological Sustainability


Curriculum Vitae


    Introduction to Linguistic Anthropology                   Ant 392N

    Language in Culture and Society                             Ant 325L

    Culture and Communication                                    Ant 307

    Speech Play and Verbal Art                                    Ant 393d

    Introduction to Maya Hieroglyphic Writing              Ant 320L

    Language and Prehistory                                         Ant 320L

    Food for Discourse and Thought                             Ant 393b

    Mayan Languages                                                   Ant 389

    Symbolism, Iconography, and Worldview               Ant 393a

    Indians of Mexico and Guatemala                           Ant 322M       

●    The Anthropology of Food                                     Ant 324L

●    Introduction to Ethnobotany                                    Ant 393c

    Ethnobotany of Mesoamerica                                  Ant 393

    Music and Discourse                                              Ant 393k

●    Sustaining People on the Planet                               Ant post 2000





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