Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Patricia Richards

Committee Members

John Richards, Bettina Arnold, Tracey Heatherington, James McDonald


Archaeology, Ethnography, Heritage, Mexico, Neoliberalism


When it comes to the pursuit of archaeology, what would archaeologists like to do, what are they required to do, and what do they end up doing? These questions are at the heart of this dissertation, which studies how archaeologists from the United States who work in Mexico negotiate the web of relationships in which they find themselves. Foucault's concept of governmentality allows us to learn more about how power flows within and between these relationships and shows the tensions that exist when these relationships are unequal. As outsiders, foreign archaeologists need to become more informed about local culture, including an understanding of political processes at the local level, among interested stakeholders, the national level, as representatives of INAH, the National Institute of Anthropology and History, and at the transnational level, where multinational corporations, such as Wal-Mart, and transnational organizations, like UNESCO, are also major actors regarding the fate of archaeological resources.

The unfolding story of two archaeological sites in Mexico, the Cañada de la Virgen and Teotihuacán, serve as examples of how these relationships play out in the context of modern Mexico. Mexico's socio-political history has also been influential, where the liberal origins of the Mexican state and its creation of a national identity through the hybrid notion of mestizaje that combines Mexico's indigenous and colonial past establish the foundations of the protection and interpretation of its archaeological resources. Currently, changes in Mexico's political and economic climate toward neoliberalism and increasing privatization have increased the threats to Mexico's archaeological resources. Tourism has been heavily promoted as a means of preserving these resources and providing economic assistance to the local communities, but these benefits have yet to be realized and may actually worsen the situation. A community engaged anthropology that leads to improved collaboration between archaeologists and local stakeholders may prove to be a successful strategy for approaching these issues, although there is also a need for archaeologists to be more aware of their motivations, biases, and professional goals that can be illuminated further through the ethnography of archaeology. The fate of Mexico's archaeological heritage is at stake.