Robert W. Preucel Professor of Anthropology, Director of Haffenreffer Museum

Robert Preucel received his doctorate from UCLA in 1988. He was a member of Jim Hill's Pajarito Archaeological Research Project and wrote his dissertation on seasonal agricultural circulation. He was the 6th Annual CAI Visiting Scholar at SIU Carbondale in 1989 and organized a conference on the Processual/Postprocessual debate. In 1990, he took an Assistant Professor position at Harvard University. In 1995, he left Harvard for an Associate Professor position at the University of Pennsylvania. He was made Sally and Alvin V. Shoemaker Professor of Anthropology in 2009 and served as Chair of the Department (2009-2012) and Gregory Annenberg Weingarten Curator-in-charge of the American Section at University of Pennsylvania Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology (2010-2012).

Brown Affiliations

Research Areas

scholarly work

Preucel, Robert W. 2012. Indigenous archaeology and the science question. Archaeological Review from Cambridge 27(1):121-141.

Preucel, Robert W. 2011. An archaeology of NAGPRA: Conversations with Suzan Shown Harjo. Journal of Social Archaeology 11(2):1-13.

Preucel, Robert W. 2011. Becoming Navajo: Refugees, Identity, and Tradition in the Dinétah. In Enduring Conquests: Rethinking the Archaeology of Resistance to Spanish Colonialism in the Americas, edited by Matthew Liebmann and Melissa Murphy, pp. 223-242. School of American Research Press, Santa Fe.

Preucel Robert W. and Stephen Mrozowski (editors) 2010. Contemporary Archaeology in Theory: The New Pragmatism. 2nd Edition, Wiley-Blackwell, New York.

Preucel, Robert W. and Craig Cipolla 2008. Indigenous and Postcolonial archaeologies. In Archaeology and the Postcolonial Critique, edited by Matthew Liebmann and Uzma Rizvi. Pp. 129-142. AltaMira Press, Walnut Creek.

Preucel, Robert W. and Frank G. Matero 2008. Placemaking on the Northern Rio Grande: A view from Kuaua. In Archaeologies of Placemaking: Monuments, Memories, and Engagement in Native North America, edited by Patricia Rubertone. Pp. 81-99. One World Archaeology Series, Left Coast Press, Walnut Creek.

Liebmann, Matthew and Robert W. Preucel 2007. The archaeology of the Pueblo Revolt and the formation of the modern Pueblo World. KIVA: The Journal of Southwestern Anthropology and History 73:197-219.

Preucel, Robert W. and Steven R. Pendery 2006. Envisioning utopia: Transcendentalist and Fourierist landscapes at Brook Farm, West Roxbury, Massachusetts. Historical Archaeology 40:25-38.

Preucel, Robert W., Lucy F. Williams, Stacey O. Espenlaub, and Janet Monge 2006. Out of heaviness, enlightenment: NAGPRA and the University of Pennsylvania Museum. Reprinted in Archaeological Ethics, Second Edition, edited by Karen D. Vitelli and Chip Colwell-Chanthaphonh, pp. 178-187, Altamira Press, Lanham.

Preucel, Robert W. 2006. Archaeological Semiotics. Blackwell Press, Oxford.

Williams, Lucy Fowler, William Wierzbowski, and Robert W. Preucel (editors) 2005. Native American Voices on Identity, Art, and Culture: Objects of Everlasting Esteem. University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Philadelphia.

Preucel, Robert W. and Lucy F. Williams 2005. The Centennial potlatch. Expedition 47(2):9-19.

Preucel, Robert W. 2005. The journey from Shipap. In The Peopling of Bandelier: New Insights from the Archeology of the Pajarito Plateau, edited by Robert P. Powers, pp. 95-101. School of American Research Press, Santa Fe.

Preucel, Robert W. 2005. Ethnicity and Southwestern archaeology. In Southwestern Archaeology in the Twentieth Century, edited by Linda Cordell and Don Fowler, pp. 174-193. University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City.

Liebmann, Matthew, T. J. Ferguson, and Robert W. Preucel 2005. Pueblo settlement, architecture, and social change in the Pueblo Revolt Era, A.D. 1680-1696. Journal of Field Archaeology 30:1-16.

Ferguson, T. J. and Robert W. Preucel 2005. Signs of the ancestors: An archaeology of the mesa villages of the Pueblo Revolt. In Structure and Meaning in Human Settlement, edited by Joseph Rykwert and Tony Atkin, pp. 185-207. University Museum Press, Philadelphia.

Preucel, Robert W., Lucy Fowler Williams, and William Wierzbowski 2005. The social lives of Native American objects. In Native American Voices on Identity, Art, and Culture: Objects of Everlasting Esteem. Edited by Lucy Fowler Williams, William Wierzbowski, and Robert W. Preucel, pp. 1-26. University Museum Press, Philadelphia.

Meskell, Lynn and Robert W. Preucel 2004. Sections entitled, Identities and Politics. In A Companion to Social Archaeology, edited by Lynn Meskell and Robert W. Preucel, pp. 121-141, 315-334. Basil Blackwell Press, Oxford.

Meskell, Lynn and Robert W. Preucel (editors) 2004. A Companion to Social Archaeology. Blackwell Press, Oxford.

Preucel, Robert W., Lucy F. Williams, Stacey O. Espenlaub, and Janet Monge 2003. Out of heaviness, enlightenment: NAGPRA and the University of Pennsylvania Museum. Expedition 45(3): 21-27.

Preucel, Robert W., Loa P. Traxler, and Michael V. Wilcox 2002. "Now the god of the Spaniards is dead:" ethnogenesis and community formation in the aftermath of the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. In Traditions, Transitions and Technologies: Themes in Southwestern Archaeology, edited by Sarah H. Schlanger, pp. 71-93. University Press of Colorado, Boulder.

Preucel, Robert W. 2002. Writing the Pueblo Revolt. In Archaeologies of the Pueblo Revolt: Identity, Meaning and Renewal in the Pueblo World, edited by Robert W. Preucel, pp. 3-29. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque.

Capone, Patricia and Robert W. Preucel 2002. Ceramic semiotics: women, pottery, and social meanings at Kotyiti Pueblo. In Archaeologies of the Pueblo Revolt: Identity, Meaning and Renewal in the Pueblo World, edited by Robert W. Preucel, pp. 99-113. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque.

Preucel, Robert W. (ed.) 2002. Archaeologies of the Pueblo Revolt: Identity, Meaning and Renewal in the Pueblo World. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque.

Joyce, Rosemary and Robert W. Preucel 2002. Writing the field of archaeology. In The Languages of Archaeology: Dialogue, Narrative and Writing, by Rosemary A. Joyce, pp. 18-38. Basil Blackwell, Oxford.

Preucel, Robert W. and Alexander Bauer 2001. Archaeological pragmatics. Norwegian Archaeological Review 34:85-96.

Preucel, Robert W. 2000. Living on the mesa: Hanat Kotyiti, a Post-revolt Cochiti community in the northern Rio Grande. Expedition 42:8-17.

Preucel, Robert W. 2000. Making pueblo identities: architectural discourse at Kotyiti, New Mexico. In An Archaeology of Communities in the Americas, edited by Jason Yaeger and Marcello Canuto, pp. 58-77. Routledge, London.

Snead, James E. and Robert W. Preucel 1999. The ideology of settlement: Ancestral Keres landscapes in the Northern Rio Grande. In Archaeologies of Landscape: Contemporary Perspectives, edited by Wendy Ashmore and A. Bernard Knapp, pp. 169-197. Basil Blackwell, Oxford.

Preucel, Robert W. 1998. Learning from the elders. In Excavating Voices: Listening to Photographs of Native Americans, edited by Michael Katakis, pp. 17-25. University of Pennsylvania Museum Press, Philadelphia.

Preucel, Robert W. 1996. Cooking status: Hohokam ideology, power, and social reproduction. In Interpreting Southwestern Diversity: Underlying Principles and Overarching Patterns, edited by Paul Fish and J. Jefferson Reid, Arizona State University, Anthropological Research Papers No. 48. pp. 125-131.

Preucel Robert W. and Ian Hodder (editors) 1996. Contemporary Archaeology in Theory: A Reader. Blackwell Press, Oxford.

Hill, James N., W. Nicholas Trierweiler and Robert W. Preucel 1996. The evolution of cultural complexity: A case from the Pajarito Plateau, New Mexico. In Emergent Complexity: The Evolution of Intermediate Societies, edited by Jeanne E. Arnold, pp. 107-127, International Monographs in Archaeology, Ann Arbor.

Preucel, Robert W. 1995. The Postprocessual condition. Journal of Archaeological Research 3:147-175.

Preucel, Robert W and Meredith Chesson 1994. Blue corn girls: A herstory of three early women archaeologists at Tecolote, New Mexico. In Women in Archaeology, edited by Cheryl Claassen, pp. 67-84. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia.

Preucel, Robert W. and John Barker 1993. A social history of maize on the Pajarito Plateau, New Mexico. In Papers on the Early Classic Period Prehistory of the Pajarito Plateau, New Mexico, edited by Timothy Kohler and A. Linse, pp. 105-119. Washington State University, Department of Anthropology Reports of Investigations No. 65. Pullman.

Leone, Mark P. and Robert W. Preucel 1992. Archaeology in a democratic society: A critical theory approach. In Quests and Quandaries: Visions of Archaeology's Future. edited by LuAnn Wandsnider, pp. 115-135. Center for Archaeological Investigations, Southern Illinois University, Occasional Paper No. 20. Carbondale.

Preucel, Robert W. 1991. The philosophy of archaeology. In Processual and Postprocessual Archaeologies: Multiple Ways of Knowing the Past. edited by Robert W. Preucel, Center for Archaeological Investigations, pp. 17-29. Southern Illinois University, Occasional Paper No. 10. Carbondale.

Preucel, Robert W. 1991. Introduction. In Processual and Postprocessual Archaeologies: Multiple Ways of Knowing the Past. edited by Robert W. Preucel, pp. 1-14. Center for Archaeological Investigations, Southern Illinois University, Occasional Paper No. 10. Carbondale.

Preucel, Robert W. (editor) 1991. Processual and Postprocessual Archaeologies: Multiple Ways of Knowing the Past. Center for Archaeological Investigations, Southern Illinois University, Occasional Paper 10. Carbondale.

Preucel, Robert W. 1990. Seasonal Circulation and Dual Residence in the Pueblo Southwest: A Prehistoric Example from the Pajarito Plateau, New Mexico. Garland Publishing, Inc., New York.

Preucel, Robert W. 1987. Settlement succession on the Pajarito Plateau, New Mexico. KIVA: The Journal of Southwestern Anthropology and History 53:3-33.

Earle, Timothy K. and Robert W. Preucel 1987. Processual archaeology and the radical critique. Current Anthropology 28:501-538.

Preucel, Robert W. 1986. The Pajarito Field House Project. Archaeology at UCLA. Vol 2. No. 19.

research overview

Robert Preucel is Director of the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology and Professor of Anthropology at Brown University. Trained as an anthropological archaeologist, he is particularly interested in the relationships of archaeology and society. His fieldwork projects include the archaeology of a utopian community in Massachusetts (the Brook Farm Project) and a post Pueblo Revolt community in New Mexico (the Kotyiti Research Project).

research statement

Kotyiti Research Project

The Pueblo Revolt and the Spanish Reconquest period (1680-1700) was a crucial time in the formation of the modern Pueblo Indian communities as we know them today. Political alliances, population movements, and warfare took place on a scale never before seen in the Southwest, involving all of the indigenous peoples in the common goal of resisting the Spanish empire. These processes had myriad outcomes ranging from the absorption of entire villages into existing ones, the temporary refuge of some groups with others, and the formation of new villages. The influx of people from different ethnic and religious backgrounds created new political rivalries and alliances and these required continual social adjustments. The dominant ideological frame of the period was supplied by a cultural revitalization movement that advocated the casting off of Spanish practices and material culture and the return to traditional beliefs and values.

Despite a substantial scholarly literature on the Revolt/Reconquest Period, we actually know very little about the specific historical expressions of Pueblo Indian ethnogenesis. Most borderlands historians have chosen to emphasize large-scale economic and religious forces at the expense of internal, village-specific practical ones. For example, J. Manuel Espinosa writes that the causes of the revolts were a basic clash of religious beliefs, coupled with distrust, suspicion and conflict emanating from subjection to Spanish rule, economic exploitation, poor agricultural yields, and severe droughts. Similarly, John Kessell and Rick Hendricks have argued that during the late 1660s and 1670s, a time of recurrent drought and food shortages, the Pueblos waged a "holy war" to expel the Spanish and cleanse the Pueblo homeland. This thesis, while broadly correct, does not fully explain why some pueblos rose up when they did while others did not, nor does it clarify why some pueblos resisted during the Reconquest Period while others acquiesced. This mosaic of overt and hidden resistance can only be understood by exploring social dynamics at work within the individual pueblo communities.

One way to enrich existing historical approaches is to bring history and ethnography together with archaeology. Surprisingly, given its rich history, there has been very little historic period archaeology in New Mexico. Ayers reports only a total of 415 Pueblo historic period components dating from 1539 to the present, and 250 components associated with Hispanic period occupations for the same time period in the Museum of New Mexico ARMS database. The reasons for these lacunae are both theoretical and political. Southwestern archaeologists have had some difficulty in developing appropriate theoretical frameworks for interpreting the historic period. The processual models commonly used for explaining prehistoric contexts do not sufficiently acknowledge the particularity of historical events and practices. Another reason is that with some notable exceptions most archaeologists have been reluctant to engage with Pueblo Indian people in the course of their research. Presumably this is partly due to the fear that partisanship and politics compromises good science. Recent collaborative projects have shown that this fear is unfounded and, furthermore, that good science necessarily requires inclusive, not exclusionary, scholarship.

The Kotyiti Research Project is a multiyear collaborative research project established between the University of Pennsylvania and the Pueblo of Cochiti in 1995. It seeks to understand community ethnogenesis using a social theory approach which places the experiences of Pueblo people at center stage. More specifically, the project examines the material expressions of sociopolitical relationships at Koytiti, an ancestral post-Revolt Cochiti community. For the people of Cochiti, Kotyiti is still very much a living site, a sacred place where their ancestors still live. We are particularly interested in tracing out some of the ways in which the people of Kotyiti may have conceptualized themselves in the 17th century as we identify the multiple significances of the community to Cochiti today. Our methodology involves integrating archaeological data, architectural analysis, ethnohistorical documents and traditional narratives, weighing each in different interpretive contexts. We regard our project as an evolving collaboration and hope that it may serve as a model for other such research projects in the Southwest and elsewhere.

The five interrelated project goals reflect a combination of Cochiti Pueblo, USDA Forest Service, and archaeological concerns and priorities. The first goal is to produce a map and a detailed architectural record of the physical layout of the two villages that constitute the Kotyiti community (LA 295 and LA 84). The existing maps are inadequate for the purposes of managing and interpreting the community. Indeed, there are a number of errors and contradictions regarding room number, roomblock orientation, kiva location, extramural features and the like. Also there is some confusion as to the precise location of these sites on the mesa and their legal jurisdictions. Finally, the Kotyiti is currently threatened by erosion and vandalism. The documentation of the present condition of these communities will provide valuable information for the Forest Service for use in monitoring activities.

The second goal is to conduct an analysis of the materials excavated by Nels Nelson and curated at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Nelson selected Kotyiti for excavation because he felt that it had considerable potential in linking history to prehistory. In 1914, he excavated all 136 rooms of the plaza pueblo and several rooms at the rancheria. He had hoped to find museum specimens so that he could create a compelling museum exhibit at the AMNH. However, he found most of the rooms empty with the exception of those that had been burned in 1694 by Diego De Vargas.

The third goal is to initiate an oral history project with Cochiti elders focusing Kotyiti and the Revolt/Reconquest Period more generally. There are a number of recorded narrative accounts that mention Cochiti mesa and its village. One of these, recorded by Ruth Benedict, even gives a Cochiti perspective on the infamous battle with Don Diego De Vargas that resulted in the destruction of Kotyiti. According to tribal officials, narrative poetry of this period is still preserved by a few families and there is a growing interest in transmitting these stories to the younger generation. The documentation of these accounts, therefore, will provide a valuable resource to the people of Cochiti, especially in providing a meaningful historical context for the ongoing Cochiti language program.

The fourth goal is to provide an educational context and employment opportunity for Cochiti youth through an internship program in archaeology. Since Cochiti Pueblo does not currently have an archaeology program, this research will serve as a preliminary introduction to the methods and procedures of archaeology. We expect that it will allow Cochiti youth to learn more about their tribal history and cultural identity and, at the same time, to gain a greater appreciation of the uses of archaeology as a means of gathering information about the past. This employment opportunity is particularly important because there are, at present, relatively few jobs that allow Cochiti youth to remain with their families during the summer.

The fifth goal is to raise the visibility of the Pueblo Revolt in the state curriculum and to incorporate the results of our research into the Cochiti high school curriculum. This will involve working closely with the teachers in the Summer Language Program as well as the teachers in the Cochiti high school.

funded research

National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Grant, "Tlingit Artists Disseminating Knowledge," 2008-2010.

Penn Museum Research Grants- "Kotyiti Project," 2000-2009

University Research Foundation Conference Grant, "Native American Endangered Languages Conference," 2008

National Science Foundation Dissertation Improvement Grant, (Craig Cipolla), 2008

Institute of Museum and Library Services, Museums for America Grant (IMLS), "The Shotridge Digital Archive Project," 2007-2010

Wenner-Gren Foundation Dissertation Grant, (Brian Daniels) 2007

National Science Foundation Dissertation Improvement Grant, (Matthew Liebmann) 2003

Wenner-Gren Foundation Dissertation Grant, (Matthew Liebmann) 2003

University Research Foundation- "Cochiti Oral History Project," 1998

University Research Foundation- "The Kotyiti Research Project," 1995

American Philosophical Society- "The Kotyiti Research Project," 1995, 1996

National Science Foundation Dissertation Improvement Grant, (Meredith Chesson) 1994

National Science Foundation Dissertation Improvement Grant, (Patricia Capone) 1992

American Philosophical Society- "The Tecolote Research Project," 1991