Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

Facing Society

The main aim of this research is to understand the dynamics of identity within indigenous Caribbean communities as expressed through the practice of intentional cranial modification. A multidisciplinary approach will be applied to achieve this aim, combining current anthropological and sociological theories on social and personal identity and the construction of the social body with (bio)archaeological and ethnohistorical lines of evidence.


This PhD research will investigate aspects of identity expression and formation among the pre-Columbian and early colonial societies of the circum-Caribbean by analyzing the practice of intentional cranial modification (ICM).

This permanent modification of the human head shape is cross-culturally recognized as a way to express and communicate elements of personal and group identity.

This research will determine patterns of modification (i.e. prevalence and type) in skeletal assemblages from the circum-Caribbean region and apply a multidisciplinary approach to correlate these patterns with social and material dimensions of society, such as sex and gender, social status, social organization, material culture, and the mobility of people and exchange of ideas across the Caribbean archipelago.

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