Allan Burns 

Professor Emeritus,  Department of Anthropology  

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
University of Florida

Areas of Specialization:  Applied Anthropology, Mexico and Central America, Medical Anthropology, Language and Culture, Immigration.

University of Florida Anthropology Department

I am Professor Emeritus of Anthropology in the Department at the University of Florida.  I am also an affiliate with the Latin American Studies program, Linguistics, the University of Florida Vision Center,  and director of the Florida/Yucatan program at the University of Florida. I received a Bachelor of Science in sociology from Iowa State University, then went on to do graduate work at the University of Washington where I received my MA and Ph.D. in anthropology. Before coming to Florida I worked for a private research company in Cambridge, MA, Abt Associates, doing evaluation of bilingual education programs in the southwest. Throughout my career, my research has focused on the Mayan language and culture in the Yucatan of Mexico, Chiapas, Guatemala, and among Guatemalan refugees in Florida.  I also work in El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Belize.  I've also done research on migration between the U.S. and México city and within Europe.  As an applied anthropologist, I am a sworn federal witness for testimony on social and political conditions in Mexico and Central America.  I am also on the technical advisory committe of the Pan American Health Organization's TB section as an expert on indigenous communities in Latin America and their responses to infectuous diseases.  I lead short term trips for medical, dental, and public health students to Mexico, Guatemala, and El Salvador.  Some of the grants and contracts I have received are from organizations such as the National Science Foundation, the Department of Labor, various governments of Micronesia, the National Park Service, the Florida Humanities Council, and the North South Center. I have also consulted for the National Geographic Society, Info-Tech, Incorporated, Abt Associates, Inc., several states, and several Native American tribes. I have published over ninety  articles and book chapters, two books, and many applied anthropology reports.   I was President of the Society for Applied Anthropology (2009-2011). 

I am a visual anthropologist and have produced several ethnographic videos, two of which have been shown on public television stations. My videos are on things like Mayan culture, immigrant health, historic preservation in Micronesia, and Native American cultural resistance. I was one of the original members of the board of directors of "Corn Maya," an association of Guatemala Maya people in the United States, as well as on the board of View our Voices, Inc., a community-based photography and video project in Gainesville, Florida for at-risk teenagers.  I have been recognized by the Kanjobal Maya refugees in Florida for research and humanitarian aid, and have won five teaching awards at the University of Florida. I am a minority mentor and administrator of graduate scholarships for minority students.  I Chaired the Department of Anthropology between 1998 and 2004 and then again from 2009-2011.  In between, I was Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs at the University of Florida for five years.  I was the Fulbright Awards Advisor through the U.F. honors program from 1996-2004.  I was a Fulbright scholar at the Copenhagen University's Institute for Anthropology (1991-92) and a visiting exchange scholar at the Universidad Complutense in Madrid, Spain (1985-86). I have also lectured and taught in Austria, Lithuania, Sweden, Norway, Mexico, El Salvador, and Guatemala. I speak Spanish and Yucatec Maya in addition to English, and have at times made great attempts to speak other European languages, including Lithuanian, Danish, German, and Portuguese.

My interests include medical anthropology, migration, higher education, indigenous rights, and applied anthropologyl.  Recent projects that students and I have been working on include a diploma course in intercultural education for bilingual teachers from seven different ethnic groups in Honduras, a health improvement project with Ak' Tenamit, a Maya NGO in Guatemala,  a study of teenage tobacco initiation and use, an ethnohistory of the National Park of Kingsley Plantation, Jacksonville (with Antoinette Jackson) and a project on migrant housing policy in Florida, funded through the State of Florida Department of Community Affairs.  I have also given workshops on visual anthropology and human rights for CIESAS-Chiapas, on visual anthropology for INAH-Mexico City, and for cultural heritage programs for many Native American groups.  The Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of Palau have invited me for several workshops and projects involving cultural heritage, the development of local museums, and oral history.  The latest was in May and June, 2011 in the Republic of Palau.

I  have mentored over 45 Ph.D. students and over 60 MA students. Some of the topics of these Ph.D. projects include Mopan Maya agriculture and philosophy (Pio Saqui), Migration and language retention in Bolivia (Leonardo Martinez),  religious festivals and social change in Yucatan (Alicia Peon), Music and identity among the Maya of Yucatan (Emilio Benites), Garifuna language (Santiag Ruiz), Women dyers in Mali (Maxine Downs), Blacksmiths and the African Diaspora (Ade Offunian), Health in Guanajuato and Florida among migrants (Alayne Unterberger), and Development Theory and Practice in Yucatan (Anna Brodrecht), among others. 

Sample Recent publications:

“Yucatec Maya Humor through Stories,”  In Michael Carrasco and Kerry Hull, "Parallel Worlds: Genre, Discourse and Poetics in Contemporary, Colonial and Classic Maya Literature  University of Colorado Press, 2012..

“Visual Literacy, Cultural Preservation, and Cultural Resistance in Micronesia,”   The Journal of Film and Video 60:2, pp 15-25.  2008

 “Stakeholder Analysis of Florida Farmworker Housing” (Joan Flocks, Allan Burns) Journal of Agromedicine Vol. 11, 1,pp 59-67. 2006.

 “Diálogos y Metáforas en los Consejos Históricos Orales de los “Santa Cruz Maya” de Quintana Roo,” (Dialogues and metaphors in the historcal oral counsels of the “Santa Cruz Maya” of Quintana Roo)  in Tercer Congreso Internacional de Mayistas, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, 2004: 263-269.

A complete cv (January 2013) can be found here.

Contact Information

Department of Anthropology
P.O. Box 117305
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL 32611-7305
Phone: (352) 392 2290