Professor Joyce's research is concerned with questions about the ways people employ things in actively negotiating their place in society, the lives and itineraries of objects, and the reframing of human engagement with the world in terms of materiality.
Her published writing includes books and articles on the use of representational imagery to create and reinforce gendered identities, ranging from examinations of Classic Maya monumental art and glyphic texts, to Formative period monumental and small-scale images. Some of this work also involves mortuary analysis. She is an expert in the study of ceramic materials, including studies of crafting, use of pots in everyday life and on special occasions, and meaning-making with painted pottery vessels and figurines.
As a museum anthropologist, Joyce works with curated collections, including photographs and historical archives, in museums in North America, Europe, and Honduras. She has engaged in collections management and exhibition work at Harvard's Peabody Museum, the Wellesley College Museum and Cultural Center, the Heritage Plantation at Sandwich, Massachusetts, the Museo de Antropología e Historia in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, and the National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution.