PhD candidate / Guest Staff Member
Eva Paulsen (Nijmegen, 1983) studied archaeology at Leiden University and wrote her MA thesis (2007) on animal symbolism in the Caribbean, by studying oral narratives.
Her current PhD-research is a continuation and elaboration of her MA study. Although, within her Master research she only focused on the symbolism of the bat, frog and turtle her current study will encompass various other animals who are frequently depicted on Caribbean archaeological remains (pottery, petroglyphs, amulets, etc.). In her Masters thesis the main focus lay in oral narratives of the Guianas and the Island Caribs of Dominica, while her dissertation will incorporate narratives known from entire Amazonia.
Narratives are part of a broad spectrum of information exchange strategies. Through narratives information is exchanged on an intra- as well as on an interregional level. Therefore information vital for (group) survival but also information concerning group identity was and is transmitted over the islands and cross the entire cultural area. The unifying worldview which is persistent in the entire Caribbean cultural region underlies all narratives and provides the emic perspective in which research on animal symbolism is approached. The tension between emic versus etic approaches is yet another aspect of her research.
The main aim of Eva's research is to create a frame of reference in which these animals as symbols must be understood, be they depicted on pottery, as amulets, as floor plans or in any other way. This frame of reference can then be used to interpret the various animal images encountered by Caribbean archaeologists.