Gabriela Oppitz

Field of Interest(s)
community, historicity, socioenvironmental change, isotopic and sediment analysis, difference, postcolonial and decolonial theory, lowlands of South America.
My research examines the intersections between community, historicity, and socio-environmental change among people linked to the sambaquis (shell mounds) in southern Brazil (5000-600 BP). By combining multiple lines of evidence stemming from stable isotopes, sediment, and zooarchaeological analyses, I look into dietary practices, mobility, and mound-building processes to explore how forms of community and history making were conditioning the ways of coping with Late Holocene environmental change, leading to specific historical outcomes. I build upon this same empirical evidence coming from the lowlands of South America to breathe new life into the age-old debate of social change, to challenge Western historicism, and to inspire other ways of historicizing in archaeology and the humanities at large, building towards an archaeology of historical difference.
Archaeologists, anthropologists, and historians have long been trying to accommodate the indigenous people of the lowlands of South America under Western narratives of evolution, progress, and modernity. With the emergence of right and far-right populist movements around the globe, it is fundamental to critique these narratives and to align the discipline of archaeology with the indigenous voices coming from the lowlands, as well as with the literature on postcolonial and decolonial theory.
I hold a B.A. in History from Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (2011) and a M.A. in Archaeology from Universidade de São Paulo (2015). Before coming to Stanford, I spent two years working with the management of archaeological heritage at Instituto do Patrimônio Histórico e Artístico Nacional National (IPHAN).
Gabriela Oppitz