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The College of Arts Sciences

Graduate Student Spotlight: Eilis Monahan

By: Katie Jarriel, 
Mon, 08/22/2016

CIAMS PhD student Eilis Monahan (Near Eastern Studies) was recently featured in an article in the Cornell Chronicle about her dissertation research, which involves archaeological fieldwork in Cyprus: 

As a Fulbright- and National Science Foundation-funded scholar, Monahan will be spending nine months on the island this fall working with the Department of Antiquities of the Republic of Cyprus to survey archaeological sites of its fortresses and prehistoric villages as part of the Ayios Sozomenos Excavation and Survey Project, directed by Despina Pilides. The data that they collect will be used to explore how a relatively egalitarian village society during the Early to Middle Bronze Age (roughly 2500 to 1650 B.C.), rapidly changed to one of extreme social inequality and political complexity in the Late Bronze Age (ca. 1650 to 1050 B.C.). The key, she believes may be in the construction of fortifications, the physical embodiment of large-scale violence.

The Cornell University Graduate School also interviewed her in a Student Spotlight, which lauded her recent NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant and Fulbright Fellowship awards. When asked what has influenced her thinking as a researcher and scholar, Eilis cited the positive role that CIAMS faculty have played in supporting her studies:

I've always been really struck by the way architecture and landscape affects people, and lately I've been influenced by the work of social theorists like Michel Foucault and Henri Lefebvre, inspiring me to think critically about how space was created in the past and how these spaces actively shape political trajectories in human society. I also have to credit my committee: Prof. Adam T. Smith in anthropology for introducing me to the literature on political theory and materiality; Prof. Sturt Manning in classics for his knowledge of all things related to Cyprus and scientific methods; and most of all, my advisor Prof. Lori Khatchadourian in Near Eastern studies. She has been tireless in her support of my work, and her knowledge and insight concerning ancient political and social organization and the relationship between materials and power is both an amazing resource and a constant source of inspiration. She really won’t accept anything less than my best, and I always come out of meetings with her full of new ideas and excited to get back to work.

Congratulations to Eilis on her accomplishments!