Ruben E. Reina, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus, Department of Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania
Consulting Curator Emeritus, American Section, University of Pennsylvania Museum
Date appointed: 1987
Dr. Ruben E. Reina earned his B.A. at the University of Michigan and his M.A. at Michigan State University. He received his Ph.D. from the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of North Carolina. Dr. Reina is a cultural anthropologist conducting enthnographic and ethnohistorical research on modern Latin American peoples and contemporary and traditional Maya Indians. He joined the Anthropology department at Penn after teaching at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and the University of Puerto Rico. He became a Professor in the Anthropology Department and the Curator of Latin American Ethnology in the American Section of the Penn Museum and also served as Chairman of the Undergraduate Program in Anthropology. He directed several exhibitions for the Museum, including in 1991, "The Gift of Birds: Featherwork of Native South American Peoples," assisted by a number of Kolb Junior Fellows. After thirty-four years as a Curator and Professor, at his retirement Dr. Reina was named Curator Emeritus of Ethnology in the American Section of the Penn Museum in 1990.
Dr. Reina began his fieldwork in the Guatemalan Highlands, Mexico, and in a mountain community in North Carolina while he was still an undergraduate. Ultimately his area of research interest and specialty would be Central and South America. He has also conducted research in Puerto Rico; at Peten, Coban, Antigua, and Zunil in Guatemala; and in British Honduras, the Yucatan, Argentina, Spain, Brazil, British Guiana; as well as Turkey and Iran (on the Hasanlu expedition directed by Robert Dyson, Jr., Emeritus Fellow and past Kolb President). He has also engaged in extensive ethnohistoric research at the Archivas de Indios in Seville Spain. Dr. Reina’s Antigua Guatemala expeditions were conducted in 1969 and 1970, and visited the sites of Las Capuchinas, Santo Domingo, San Francisco, Farington, La Colonia, El Manchen, Instituto Nacional de la Vivienda, Centro de la Iglesia, and others, producing artifacts, photographs, and extensive information about pottery creation, production and marketing in the area. He explored the pottery works of the Monteil family, a pottery-making dynasty in Antigua. Dr. Reina received numerous grants to conduct his research, most notably from the DiNella Foundation, the Natural Science Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the American Philosophical Society.
Dr. Reina began publishing his work in 1954. His books include: Chinautla, a Guatemalan Indian Community A Study in the Relationship of Community Culture and National Change, 1960; The Law of the Saints: A Pokomam Pueblo and Its Community Culture, 1966; Parana: Social Boundaries in the Argentine City, 1974; The Traditional Pottery of Guatemala, 1978 (co-authored with Robert M. Hill, III). He co-edited The Gift of Birds - Featherwork of Native South American Peoples, 1991, which accompanied the exhibit at the Penn Museum. He has written numerous articles on his research.