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UCR Anthropology PhD Graduate (2016) Lisa DeLance’s new edited collection, Framing Complexity: Vantages from Formative Mesoamerica will be out in early 2022 from University of Colorado Press 

Volume editors: Lisa DeLance and Gary Feinman
Main contributors: Guy Hepp, Jeff Brzezinski, Travis Stanton, Pru Rice, Wes Stoner, Mike Smyth, Zoe Rawski, and Jon Spenard 

Framing Complexity: Vantages from Formative Mesoamerica is a fresh examination of variable social and economic processes that contributed to emergent complexity throughout Mesoamerica. The origins of social complexity have long been a concern among archaeologists throughout the world. This volume provides a novel approach to questions of complexity by exploring the ways that early sedentary communities established themselves vis-à-vis other social groups.

As one of the fundamental questions in archaeological inquiry, the origins of social complexity has been the topic a number of research projects throughout Mesoamerica for at least the last seven decades. The contributors of this volume offer an innovative synthesis of artifactual, iconographic, and settlement pattern data to examine how different groups negotiated new social environments, new social groups, and economic interactions across Mesoamerica.

In this volume, a mix of well-established and up-and-coming scholars (including UCR Professor Travis Stanton and UCR PhD 2014 Jon Spenard) approach issues of complexity from the initial outset of sedentism that marked the Early Formative/Preclassic Period. The contributors explore complexity as a process, rather than a state of being and can be seen by exploring the processes of social aggregation, the emergence of ethnic affiliations, and aspects of regional and macro- regional variability.

News Archive

  • 2020-2021

    Congratulations to graduating senior Leana Rudolph who has done a fascinating ethnographic Honors project on Buddhism in the Inland Empire, providing a great example of how to do fieldwork in the pandemic and a great resource for future work.

    Learn more at https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/3ebdc7e51d664208be33bfe7e03f5cb6 and https://youtu.be/xmFBlNDXBWo.


    Anthropology's Mellon-Mays Undergraduate Fellows Heading to Grad School

    Two anthropology undergraduates are featured in the upcoming 2021 Celebration for the Mellon-Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program, on May 24, 2021 5-6:30 PM (PST).  Registration details are at https://bit.ly/MMUF2021

    Isabella Araiza, Biological Anthropology
    "Is Ulna Curvature in the StW 573 Australopithecus Normal or Pathological?"
    Mentor: Dr. Elizabeth Berger

    Rita Fessehaie Tesfai, Anthropology
    "The Melody of Rebellion: Sonic Agency, Cultural Memory, and the Music of the Kel Tamasheq"
    Mentor: Dr. Worku Nida

    Moreover, both of them are heading to grad. school this Fall.  Isabella will be starting a Master’s in Anthropology at New York University this Fall.  Rita will be starting a Master’s in Anthropology at the University of Chicago this Fall.

    Please join the department in congratulating Isabella and Rita for their hard work, and offering our very best wishes for continued success in the field!


    May 2021 Updated Statement to the University of California, Riverside Leadership and Community

    The UC Riverside Department of Anthropology reaffirms its commitment to fighting antiblackness in all its forms, within our department, our institution, and our discipline. We have issued an updated statement as of May 2021 to increase transparency and accountability by reminding us of this commitment, and publicly stating what work has been accomplished this past year and what remains for us to do.


    UCR Anthropologist Jennifer Syvertsen was recently interviewed by UCR News in a piece on the "dawning of the age of the vaccine passport"

    The pandemic has exacerbated long-standing structural and social inequities to disproportionately sicken, hospitalize, and kill vulnerable groups. We are all eager to return to some semblance of “normal,” and while vaccine passports seem attractive in permitting safe travel, there are real ethical concerns that this will be just another driver of global health inequity.

    Read more at https://news.ucr.edu/articles/2021/03/24/dawning-age-vaccine-passport


    Explorers Club names UC Riverside archaeologist one of 50 people changing the world

    Ayana Omilade Flewellen, an assistant professor of anthropology, has been named one of 50 people who are changing the world. Her terrestrial and underwater archaeological work uncovering the lives of enslaved people of African descent was honored by the Explorers Club, which was founded in 1904 and encourages exploration of land, sea, air, and space, with an emphasis on the physical and biological sciences. 

    Read more at https://insideucr.ucr.edu/awards/2021/03/15/explorers-club-names-uc-riverside-archaeologist-one-50-people-changing-world


    "An ancient Maya ambassador’s bones show a life of privilege and hardship”

    UCR Anthropology’s Kenichiro Tsukamoto’s February 2021 article in Latin American Antiquity was featured in UCR News on March 15, 2021.  

    An important Maya man buried nearly 1,300 years ago led a privileged yet difficult life. The man, a diplomat named Ajpach’ Waal, suffered malnutrition or illness as a child, but as an adult, he helped negotiate an alliance between two powerful dynasties that ultimately failed. The ensuing political instability left him in reduced economic circumstances, and he probably died in relative obscurity.

    During excavations at El Palmar, a small plaza compound in Mexico near the borders of Belize and Guatemala, archaeologists led by Kenichiro Tsukamoto, an assistant professor of anthropology at UC Riverside, discovered a hieroglyph-adorned stairway leading up to a ceremonial platform. When deciphered, the hieroglyphs revealed that in June, 726 CE, Ajpach’ Waal traveled and met the king of Copán, 350 miles away in Honduras, to forge an alliance with the king of Calakmul, near El Palmar.

    Continue reading at https://news.ucr.edu/articles/2021/03/15/ancient-maya-ambassadors-bones-show-life-privilege-and-hardship

    Read Tsukamoto’s article in Latin American Antiquity : https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/latin-american-antiquity/article/abs/life-course-of-a-standardbearer-a-nonroyal-elite-burial-at-the-maya-archaeological-site-of-el-palmar-mexico/727E3FEDE7A0FE6CD698E139FA2F54B7 


    Congratulations to UCR Anthropology Graduate Student, Jeremy Coltman, who just published a co-edited volume concerning sorcery, divination, and curing in ancient Mesoamerica.

    Details here: https://upcolorado.com/university-press-of-colorado/item/3841-sorcery-in-mesoamerica


    Congratulations to Professor Worku Nida, the recipient of a Remote Course Conversion Grant for ANTH 001 (Introduction to Cultural Anthropology) from XCITE (UCR’s Center for Teaching and Learning). Working with an instructional designer, Prof. Nida will build on his experience teaching online in the pandemic to further improve the department’s online course offerings.


    Congratulations to Prof. Christina Schwenkel, the recipient of a 2020 grant from the Graham Foundation to support the publication of her new book from Duke University Press, Building Socialism: The Afterlife of East German Architecture in Urban Vietnam.


    Congratulations to Prof. Sally Ness, a contributor to the 2019 edited volume from Lexington Books, The Ethnography of Tourism, which was awarded the 2020 Edward Bruner Book Prize from the Anthropology of Tourism Interest Group.


    Congratulations to the 37 Public Anthropology Award Winners at U.C. Riverside in Prof. Worku Nida’s Fall 2020 ANTH 001 (Cultural Anthropology) Class

    Le'Analelei Jackson, Michael Georgiou, Maya Glasberg-Keller, Joshua Candelaria, Vincent Cortes, Ryan Heravi, Aaron Lee, Thompson Tang, Zuulunegshiglen Batsuuri, Sofia Ramsey Silva, Nanise Royal, Monica De La Torre, Shreya Deshmukh, Nancy Gutierrez, Edwin Leon, Scott Phan, Erika Go-Oco, Hannah Logan, Dhairya Mehta, Kevin Quach, Anurag Vedagiri, Sherina Torres, Dimary Valdizon, Mckayla Avels, Kevin Ho, Angel Velasquez, Ethan Kuan, Brianna Brizuela, Justen Iglesias, Elkanah Lane, Vy Nguyen, Christine Ortiz, William Phan, Taylor Tan, Jannie Lao, Mary Rached, and Nathan Alcantar

    Details at https://www.publicanthropology.org/CAW/20-FALL/3-UC%20Riverside.htm


    Congratulations to UCR Anthropology undergraduate student, Rita Tesfai on her successful presentation at this year's AAA conference Raising Our Voices (ROV). Under Dr. Worku Nida's mentorship, Rita has been a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Research Fellow, studying sonic agency among West African musicians for the last two years.  View her presentation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-unZNz4Deg

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