Inaugural Lecture@UCL: Elizabeth Graham

Start: Feb 05, 2013 06:30 PM

Location: UCL Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre, Wilkins Building

UCL, 2011 (Image ©UCL Media Services)

Elizabeth Graham will give her Inaugural Lecture entitled 'Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea - The Maya of Colonial Belize' at UCL on 5 February.

Inaugural lectures are an opportunity for UCL professors to exhibit to the wider UCL community, and the public outside UCL, a flavour of their intellectual activity and research and for newly promoted professors they are also an opportunity for colleagues to recognise and celebrate the achievements that have led to their promotion.

The Inaugural Lecture will be followed by a reception and all are welcome.


Although the ‘devil’ in the phrase used here is believed to have referred originally to the junction between a ship’s decking and hull (‘betwixt the Devill and the deepe Sea. . .’[1637]), the idea that one’s choices are limited was the meaning then as it is in my title.  Those who found themselves in this no-win situation were the sixteenth-century Maya in what came to be called the Bay of Honduras—present-day Belize.   On the one side, from their bases in Yucatan came the Spanish friars and tribute-extractors who viewed Maya writing, art and cultural expression as manifestations of the devil. On the other side were British and other European seafarers who, to establish bases and hiding places for their attacks on Spanish ships, made it their business to become familiar with Belize’s coast, cayes and atolls for the purpose of raiding communities for supplies and slaves.  In this lecture I employ what I have learned from archaeological excavations to shed light on the effects of these kinds of contact, but also on how the Christianity brought by Europeans became an instrument of rebellion and resistance.