Trained as an anthropologist and archaeologist, I am a former academic now pursuing direct service, non-violence, and positive social change. Generally I am interested in understanding what it is to be human, but in particular I try to understand human violence and conflict, as well as strategies for promoting peace. Though I have scholarly interests in these topics, I’m trying to apply what I have learned, and continue to learn, in my daily life.
From 2012-2017 I was an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Indiana University-Purdue University at Fort Wayne (IPFW), where I taught courses on archaeology, the anthropology of war and peace, and geographic information systems. During a self-imposed academic hiatus from 2015-2017 I lived in Tucson, Arizona, and joined AmeriCorps to be a VISTA. I had the opportunity to learn about and work with refugees, and that experience strengthened my desire to apply my skills and knowledge to collaborate with others addressing poverty, social inequality, militarization, oppression, and injustice.
On this website you may learn about my past and newly hatched research projects, and access my old publications and newer writings.
About Hidden Histories
In my previous professional existence my research entailed documenting the evidence for both war and ritual in the past, specifically along the central coastal valleys of Perú. My principal research project from 2009-2015 was Proyecto Awqa Pacha, a regional survey project designed to locate, document, and date fortifications in a 13-valley area of the Peruvian coast. I was able to do three valleys – this type of site had been neglected, and there continues to be much more work than I anticipated when I envisioned the project. There is a hidden ancient history of war, and I felt that I only scratched the surface. I continue to think about these data, and hope to make them available for others to use. Though my principal area of expertise is in the Central Andes, I am well versed in the archaeology of South America, and have strong interests in the history of the Americas. Perú was a second home for me, and I miss it, but I’ve been working on getting to know my own home a little better.
Currently I am researching the history of the U.S. Mexico borderlands, specifically the areas of the U.S. known today as Texas and New Mexico, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas in northern Mexico. As a contested area with a deep history of violence, and shifting boundaries that shape(d) the experiences and identities of people living in the Mexico-U.S. borderlands, I view this area as a place where I may examine many of the same themes that drew me to study ancient war in Perú, but do so in an area that is part of my own personal history. As a tejana, descended from the early founders of San Fernando de Béxar, Mexico (now San Antonio, Texas), and a Nuevo Mexicana, I seek to understand the histories of this area that remain hidden or ignored, and the agendas that have shaped the silencing of certain pasts.
I’m working on a historical/genealogical study of my family migrations across, and experiences in, Mexico (some areas of which are now the U.S.) over 300 years, and the broader contexts in which those migrations and experiences took place. Really the overall aim is to reclaim an honest history, for myself, and for others. As part of understanding the history of colonization and migration of my ancestors, I’m also interested in understanding the indigenous peoples they encountered, and ultimately displaced. It is my firm belief that at this point in time, few if any of us can escape the histories of violence that permeate our pasts and presents. We must acknowledge and confront them, and then actively work toward peace in our daily practice.