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Samuel Holley-Kline

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Samuel Holley-Kline

Dissertation Writer
Research Interests: 
Mexican archaeology, historical archaeology, cultural heritage, disciplinary histories, and ethnographic methods


My dissertation, “Entangled Archaeology, Industry, and Labor in El Tajín, Mexico, 1880-2018” explores how a landscape of pre-Hispanic mounds was transformed into a federally-managed archaeological site, and the histories silenced in that process. Through excavation and architectural reconstruction, archaeologists produced El Tajín as an exemplar of the pre-Hispanic era. In so doing, they overlooked the more recent pasts relevant to the marginalized, indigenous Totonac communities of the region – accounts of land tenure transformation, vanilla cultivation, oil exploration, and labor at the archaeological site. To understand these histories, I draw on ethnographic approaches to cultural heritage and archaeological approaches to landscape and materiality. The result is a regional history better informed by those who lived it, in the context of broad social and political changes to Mexico’s state-citizen relationships. I graduated from DePauw University in 2012 with a BA in anthropology and Spanish. Outside of El Tajín, I have been involved with ethnographic research in Cuetzalan, Puebla, and archaeological research in Rancho Kiuic, Yucatán.