MacArthur Fellows Program

Nancy Marguerite Farriss

Historian | Class of 1986

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
48 at time of award
Published August 1, 1986

About Nancy's Work

Nancy Farriss is an ethnohistorian who studies the continuities and discontinuities in the colonial life of the Indians of Mesoamerica.

Basing her work on documentary, ethnographic, and archaeological materials, Farriss reconstructs the social organization and belief systems of preconquest Amerindian society and its evolution under Spanish colonial rule.  She has conducted fieldwork in the Yucatan and Oaxaca, and archival research in Mexico, Spain, and Italy.  Her books include Crown and Clergy in Colonial Mexico, 1759-1821: The Crisis of Ecclesiastical Privilege (1968) and Maya Society under Colonial Rule: The Collective Purchase of Survival (1984), and La sociedad maya bajo el dominio colonial (1992).


Farriss taught at the University of the West Indies, Jamaica (1967-68) and at the College of William and Mary (1968-1971).  She began teaching as an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania in 1971; in 1983, she was promoted to professor, and, in 1990, she was named the Walter H. Annenberg Professor of History.

Farriss received a B.A. (1959) from Barnard College and a Ph.D. (1965) from the University of London.

Last updated January 1, 2005.

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