Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2020
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
A Landscape in Ruins: Land, Law and Archaeology in Mexico, 1850-1978

Archaeology underpinned the creation of a Mexican national imaginary through the excavation of ruins that provided a tangible link between the narrative that the nation told about its past and the national landscape. At the same time, this land fulfilled a second critical role in the formation of the republic, as a productive resource for economic development. These two visions of the territory are mutually constitutive, but their interactions remain unexplored. Their encounters in the physical terrain have produced unexpected tensions and contradictions: from petroleum refineries built atop pre-Columbian ruins to ejidos relocated during agrarian reform due to their proximity to archaeological sites. My doctoral dissertation examines these entanglement to understand the processes through which archaeology shapes and transforms contested landscapes. With the SSRC Mellon IDRF I propose to conduct twelve months of archival and community-based research to study the pivotal role that archaeology has played in structuring the spatial relations and territorial frameworks that have underpinned the construction of the modern Mexican state– namely the nature of sovereignty, property rights, productivity, collectivity, and patrimony. Through this research I will examine the relationship between the land, law, and archaeology, and develop an understanding of the ways in which Mexican citizens have come to engage with the archaeological past as a means of asserting political agency