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Christopher Morehart

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Assistant Professor
Faculty, TEMPE Campus, Mailcode 2402
Biography

Projects:

The Northern Basin of Mexico Historical Ecology Project

The Comparative Paleoethnobotany and Ethnobotany of the Maya Lowlands and Greater Mesoamerica

I am an environmental anthropologist, an ethnobotanist/paleoethnobotanist, and an archaeologist. One of the best things about anthropology and archaeology is the ability and training to exhibit this kind of flexible pragmatism. Indeed, this characteristic is what drew me to anthropology and is what keeps me here. These interests have led me to tackle a number of social questions at different times and places. Regionally, the vast majority of my work as an anthropological archaeologist occurs in the region scholars call (somewhat arbitrarily) Mesoamerica. Sub-regionally, I have conducted research in the Maya Lowlands of Belize, Yucatan, and Guatemala, and I have been working intensively in the Basin of Mexico over the past several years. Conceptually, much of my research centers on questions of inequality and ideology. I have studied the impact of state power on agrarian landscapes, the connection between politics and environmental sustainability, the integration of ritual with politics, community formation in the wake of imperial collapse, the effect of economic circumstances on gender relations, the role of archaeological narratives in contemporary identity politics, and many other important anthropological issues.

I continue to work as a paleoethnobotanist on archaeological projects in Yucatan, Mexico; Belize, Guatemala; and the southeast United States. Creating a Mesoamerican ethnobotanical database (based on published literature) is a project I’ve been working on since 2000. However, my primary research exists in central Mexico, namely the Northern Basin of Mexico. I was the director of the Proyecto Chinampero Xaltocan, an archaeological project that reconstructed the raised field agricultural landscape surrounding the pre-Aztec city state of Xaltocan. This project gave me the opportunity to invest in an agricultural landscape the same amount of time and energy archaeologists typically give to residential sites. In so doing, I realized the importance of these spaces for addressing central problems in the archaeology of political economy as well as key limitations in many of our models that explain the relationship between farmers and politics. Moreover, this work opened my eyes to agricultural landscapes as active, lived spaces—spaces where past people spent so much of their daily lives (but spaces that seem to be relegated archaeologically to a handful of surface collections, trenches or test pits, if that). Using satellite imagery and aerial photos (managed in a GIS) with this intensive, on the ground fieldwork, allowed me to document one of the largest pre-Aztec chinampa systems.

As an environmental anthropologist, however, this work is only one aspect of longer term research on the historical ecology of the northern Basin of Mexico—a project with questions whose answers are as much about the present as they are about the past. Fundamentally, this project stresses the political ecological dimension of historical ecology and seeks to understand the impact of political change on how people interacted with the environment. Archaeologically, we are working at sites that date from the Formative period to the Colonial and more recent historic periods in the northern Basin of Mexico. The kinds of sites we are studying include villages and residences, ritual shrines, specialized lake-shore sites (perhaps trading ports?), and canal and terrace systems. One of this project's great challenges is integrating data that exist at very different spatial and temporal scales, such as intensive excavation data, survey data, aerial photos and satellite images, historic texts and maps, ethnographic data and oral histories, and paleoecological records. But this challenge makes this project more exciting and significant. We will produce a historical ecology and biography of landscape that is meaningful both for scientists and historians and for living residents.

 

At ASU, I teach the following classes:

Plants and Society (undergraduate)

Landscape, Place, and Space (graduate and upper-level undergrad)

Aztec, Inca, and Maya (undergraduate)

Paleoethnobotany (graduate and upper-level undergrad)

 

Additional Web Information

  
Musings:

Rusty Marshalltown Blog, updated here and now. My thoughts on anthropology, archaeology, environment, and ethnobotany.

Academia.edu:

https://asu.academia.edu/ChristopherMorehart

New Book:

Surplus: The Politics of Production and the Strategies of Everyday Life, edited by Christopher Morehart and Kristin De Lucia

Older Book:

Food, Fire, and Fragrance: A Paleoethnobotanical Perspective on Classic Maya Cave Rituals

Random Links and News:

Looking to the Future to Examine the Past

ASU Anthropologist Examines Community Identity in Award Winning Article

Surplus Matters: An Archaeologist's View

Archaeology Magazine News Brief

Interviews et al.

ASU Professor Researches History of Where Politics, Environment Intersect

National Geographic Weekend Interview

Education

Ph.D., 2010, Anthropology, Northwestern University 

M.Sc., 2002, Anthropology, Florida State University

B.A., 1999, Anthropology, Ohio University (minor, Environmental and Plant Biology)

Research Interests

Historical and Political Ecology. Landscapes. Ethnobotany. Food. Agriculture and water management. Archaeology of ritual. GIS. Remote sensing. Archaeology of gender. Public archaeology. Economic anthropology. Mexican history.

Publications
  1. Christopher Morehart. 2015 Archaeologies of the Past and in the Present: Materialities of Human History.. American Anthropologist (2015).

  2. Christopher Morehart and Shanti-Morell-Hart. Beyond the Ecofact: Toward a Social Paleoethnobotany in Mesoamerica. . In Press. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory (2015).

  3. Morehart, Christopher. Archaeologies of the Past and in the Present: Materialities of Human History. American Anthropologist (2015).

  4. Edited book: Christopher Morehart and Kristin De Lucia. Surplus: The Politics of Production and the Strategies of Everyday Life. University of Colorado Press (2015).

  5. Book chapter: De Lucia, Kristin, and Christopher Morehart. Surplus and Social Change: The Production of Household and Field in Pre-Aztec Central Mexico. Surplus: The Politics of Production and the Strategies of Everyday Life.. The University of Colorado Press, Boulder (2015).

  6. Christopher Morehart. The Potentiality and the Consequences of Surplus: Agricultural Production and Institutional Transformation in the Northern Basin of Mexico. Economic Anthropology (2014).

  7. Christopher Morehart and Charles Frederick. The Chronology and Collapse of Pre-Aztec (chinampa) agriculture in the Northern Basin of Mexico..Antiquity (2014).

  8. Christopher Morehart and Shanti-Morell-Hart. Beyond the Ecofact: Toward a Social Paleoethnobotany in Mesoamerica. . In Press. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory (2014).

  9. Morehart, Christopher, and Shanti Morell-Hart. Beyond the Ecofact: Toward a Social Paleoethnobotany in Mesoamerica. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory

  10. Book chapter: Morehart, Christopher, and Kristin De Lucia. Surplus: The Politics of Production and the Strategies of Everyday Life, an Introduction.. Surplus: The Politics of Production and the Strategies of Everyday Life.. The University of Colorado Press, Boulder

Research Activity

Subsistence and Economic Diversity Resilience and Transformation in the Northern Basin of Mexico. NSF-SBE-SES (9/1/2015 - 8/31/2019).

Spring 2017
Course NumberCourse Title
ASB 484Internship
ASB 492Honors Directed Study
ASB 493Honors Thesis
ASB 497Honors Colloquium
ASB 499Individualized Instruction
ASB 580Practicum
ASB 590Reading and Conference
ASB 591Seminar
ASB 592Research
ASB 790Reading and Conference
ASB 792Research
ASB 799Dissertation
Fall 2016
Course NumberCourse Title
ASB 484Internship
ASB 492Honors Directed Study
ASB 493Honors Thesis
ASB 499Individualized Instruction
ASB 580Practicum
ASB 584Internship
ASM 590Reading and Conference
ASB 590Reading and Conference
ASM 592Research
ASB 592Research
ASM 790Reading and Conference
ASB 790Reading and Conference
ASM 792Research
ASB 792Research
ASM 799Dissertation
ASB 799Dissertation
Spring 2016
Course NumberCourse Title
ASB 362People and Plants
ASB 484Internship
ASB 492Honors Directed Study
ASB 493Honors Thesis
ASB 499Individualized Instruction
ASB 580Practicum
ASB 590Reading and Conference
ASB 592Research
ASB 790Reading and Conference
ASB 792Research
ASB 799Dissertation
Fall 2015
Course NumberCourse Title
ASB 223Aztecs, Incas and Mayas
ASB 484Internship
ASB 492Honors Directed Study
ASB 493Honors Thesis
ASM 499Individualized Instruction
ASB 499Individualized Instruction
ASB 580Practicum
ASB 584Internship
ASB 590Reading and Conference
ASM 590Reading and Conference
ASM 592Research
ASB 592Research
ASM 790Reading and Conference
ASB 790Reading and Conference
ASM 792Research
ASB 792Research
ASM 799Dissertation
ASB 799Dissertation
Spring 2015
Course NumberCourse Title
ASB 362People and Plants
ASB 484Internship
ASM 484Internship
ASB 493Honors Thesis
ASM 493Honors Thesis
ASB 499Individualized Instruction
ASM 499Individualized Instruction
ASB 580Practicum
ASM 590Reading and Conference
ASB 590Reading and Conference
ASB 592Research
ASM 592Research
ASB 790Reading and Conference
ASM 790Reading and Conference
ASM 792Research
ASB 792Research
ASM 799Dissertation
ASB 799Dissertation
Fall 2014
Course NumberCourse Title
ASM 484Internship
ASB 484Internship
ASM 492Honors Directed Study
ASB 492Honors Directed Study
ASB 493Honors Thesis
ASB 497Honors Colloquium
ASM 499Individualized Instruction
ASB 499Individualized Instruction
ASB 580Practicum
ASB 584Internship
ASB 590Reading and Conference
ASM 590Reading and Conference
ASB 591Seminar
ASB 592Research
ASM 592Research
ASM 790Reading and Conference
ASB 790Reading and Conference
ASM 792Research
ASB 792Research
ASM 799Dissertation
ASB 799Dissertation
Spring 2014
Course NumberCourse Title
ASB 394Special Topics
ASM 484Internship
ASB 484Internship
ASM 492Honors Directed Study
ASB 492Honors Directed Study
ASM 493Honors Thesis
ASM 499Individualized Instruction
ASB 499Individualized Instruction
ASB 580Practicum
ASB 590Reading and Conference
ASM 590Reading and Conference
ASB 592Research
ASM 592Research
ASM 790Reading and Conference
ASB 790Reading and Conference
ASM 792Research
ASB 792Research
ASM 799Dissertation
Fall 2013
Course NumberCourse Title
ASB 484Internship
ASB 492Honors Directed Study
ASB 493Honors Thesis
ASB 499Individualized Instruction
ASB 580Practicum
ASB 584Internship
ASB 590Reading and Conference
ASB 592Research
ASB 790Reading and Conference
ASB 792Research
ASB 799Dissertation
Presentations
  1. Christopher Morehart Socio-Spatial Isomorphism and Ancient Farming Systems: Nominal versus Practical Tenure in the Basin of Mexico.. 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology. (Apr 2015).
  2. Christopher Morehart Chinampas y Chinamperos: The Political Ecology of Raised Field Farming and Water Management in the Basin of Mexico.The Eighth Visiting Scholar Conference of the Institute for European and Mediterranean Archaeology,. (Apr 2015).
  3. Christopher Morehart Ethics of Digital Technology in Archaeology. Panel discussion in session on Digital Technology and Ethics in Anthropology..American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, Washignton, D.C.. (Dec 2014).
  4. Christopher Morehart and John Millhauser Evaluating Representational Perspectives of Landscape and Adjusting the Historical Gaze of the Basin of Mexico. Paper presented at the 79th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Austin, TX.. (Apr 2014).
  5. Christopher Morehart and John Millhauser Hiding in plain sight: the significance of small sites in the northern Basin of Mexico.. Paper presented at the 79th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Austin, TX.. (Apr 2014).
  6. Christopher Morehart, Abigail Meza Peñaloza and Destiny Crider Understanding Violence: Ritual, Conflict, and Sacrifice in the Basin of Mexico..aper presented at the 79th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Austin, TX. (Apr 2014).
  7. Christopher Morehart and Megan Parker Culture vs. Behavior: Can we use archaeobotanical data from ritual contexts in the Maya Lowlands to document environmental change?. Paper presented at the 79th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Austin, TX.. (Apr 2014).
  8. Christopher Morehart Discussant for Applied Archaeology in the Global South: Action, Assessment, and the Democratization of Practices in Archaeology.. Presented at the 79th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Austin, TX.. (Apr 2014).
  9. Christopher Morehart Chair of session: Transitions: Governmentality, Politics, Power. SOCIETY FOR ECONOMIC ANTHROPOLOGY 2014 Annual Meeting "Energy and Economy". (Apr 2014).
Service
  • Ancient Mesoamerica, Reviewer (2015 - present)
  • How to get an academic job panel, October 27, 2015, Presenter (2015 - present)
  • Journal of Archaeological Research, Reviewer (2015 - present)
  • National Science Foundation, Reviewer (2015 - present)
  • Geoarchaeology, Reviewer (2015 - present)
  • Journal of Field Archaeology, Reviewer (2015 - present)
  • Presented a public talk (in Spanish) on the history of archaeological research at Xaltocan, Mexico April 2015 at a community event in Xaltocan Mexico, Presenter (2015 - present)
  • Annual Colloquium Organizer, Organizer (2014 - present)
  • Economic Botany, Reviewer (2014 - present)
  • Teotihuacan Research Facility Taskforce, Committee member (2014 - present)
  • Teotihuacan Research Facility Taskforce, Committee member (2013 - present)
  • Society for American Archaeology, Current Research Online, Regional Coordinator for Northern Mexico (2013 - present)
  • Society for American Archaeology, Committee on Archaeological Ethics, Committee Member (2013 - present)
  • Undergraduate Committee, Member (2015 - 2016)
  • Society for Economic Anthropology, Board Member (2013 - 2016)
  • Annual Colloquium Organizer, Organizer (2014 - 2015)
  • Society for Economic Anthropology, Board Member (2013 - 2015)
  • Society for American Archaeology, Current Research Online, Regional Coordinator for Northern Mexico (2013 - 2015)
  • Society for American Archaeology, Committee on Archaeological Ethics, Committee Member (2013 - 2015)
  • Graduate Research Committee, Committee Member (2013)