James Doyle is an archaeologist and museum professional whose curatorial practice activates objects for university teaching, scholarly research, and public education. He has organized exhibitions, conducted archaeological and conservation fieldwork, and published widely on the material and visual cultures of the ancient Americas. He is currently the Director of the Matson Museum of Anthropology and an Associate Research Professor of Anthropology at Penn State University.
Previously he served as the Assistant Curator for Arts of the Ancient Americas at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, where organized the critically acclaimed exhibition Arte del mar: Artistic Exchange in the Caribbean. This wide-ranging exploration of ritual knowledge, performance, and political power in the lands around the rim of the Caribbean Sea brought together spectacular works created by artists from the Taíno civilizations and their peers. The exhibition, publication, and associated programming also explored the legacies of ancestral imagery in modern and contemporary art of the region and of diaspora communities.
Contributions to other exhibition projects at The Met include Golden Kingdoms: Luxury and Legacy in the Ancient Americas (The J. Paul Getty Museum and the Met, 2017-2018), Design for Eternity: Architectural Models from the Ancient Americas (The Met, 2015-2016), Native American Masterpieces from the Charles and Valerie Diker Collection (The Met, 2016-2017), and American Indian Art from the Fenimore Art Museum: The Thaw Collection (The Met, 2017). As the Post-Doctoral Associate in Pre-Columbian Studies at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, DC, from 2013-2014, he also contributed to the forthcoming catalogue of the Central American and Colombian collection at Dumbarton Oaks along with a companion scholarly volume (2022, in press).
Object-based studies have appeared in both traditional and online publications, such as a study of codex-style Maya ceramics (Metropolitan Museum Journal, 2016), as well as an investigation into the discovery of a fragment of a Maya carved wooden lintel in the Smithsonian collections (Mexicon, 2014). He has also researched the biographies of museum objects from their creation, trafficking, sale, and appearance in foreign collections, such as Stela 5 from the site of Piedras Negras (2019, in Market for Mesoamerica).
His archaeological work involves collaborations with archaeologists and local communities in northern Guatemala. The book Architecture and the Origins of Preclassic Maya Politics (Cambridge University Press, 2017) and several peer-reviewed articles explored the intersections of community and political authority in the emergence of monumental architecture in the Maya landscape. The field project from 2008-2012 at the site of El Palmar, Petén, Guatemala, was funded by the National Science Foundation and the Wenner-Gren Foundation.