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Michael Stoff, Director 305 East 23rd St, CLA 2.102, (G3600) Austin, TX 78712-1250 • 512-471-1442

Enrique R. Rodriguez-Alegría

Associate Professor Ph.D., University of Chicago

Enrique R. Rodriguez-Alegría



Courses taught: 
Introduction to Mesoamerica, Colonial Latin America, Social Inequality in Mesoamerica, Food and Politics, Ceramic Analysis

Recent Publications:

2013  Stoner, W. D., J. K. Millhauser, E. Rodríguez-Alegría, L. Overholtzer and M. D. Glascock.  “Taken with a Grain of Salt: Experimentation and the Chemistry of Archaeological Ceramics from Xaltocan, Mexico.” Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory.

2013 E. Rodríguez-Alegría, John Millhauser, and Wesley Stoner.  “Trade, Tribute, and Neutron Activation: The Colonial Political Economy of Xaltocan, Mexico.”  Journal of Anthropological Archaeology  32:397-414.   

2012  The Menial Art of Cooking: Archaeological Studies of Cooking and Food Preparation.  Edited by Sarah Graff and E. Rodríguez-Alegría.  The University Press of Colorado.

2012  “From the Stone Age to the Store-Bought Age: Corn Tortillas and Grinding in Xaltocan, Mexico.”  In The Menial Art of Cooking: Archaeological Studies of Cooking and Food Preparation.  Edited by Sarah Graff and E. Rodríguez-Alegría.  The University Press of Colorado.

2012  “The Discovery and Decolonization of Xaltocan, Mexico” in Lost in Transition: Decolonizing Indigenous Histories at the “Prehistoric/Colonial” Intersection in Archaeology, edited by Maxine Oland, Siobhan Hart, and Liam Frink.  University of Arizona Press.

2012  Jaime Mata-Míguez, Lisa Overholtzer, E. Rodríguez-Alegría, and Deborah A. Bolnick.  “The Genetic Impact of Aztec Imperialism: Ancient Mitochondrial DNA Evidence from Xaltocan, Mexico.”  American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 149(4):504-16.

2011  John Millhauser, E. Rodríguez-Alegría, and Michael D. Glascock.  “Testing the accuracy of portable X-ray fluorescence to study Aztec and Colonial obsidian supply at Xaltocan, Mexico.” Journal of Archaeological Science, 38:3141-3152.

2010 J.G. Iñañez, J.J. Bellucci, E. Rodríguez-Alegría, R. Ash, W. McDonough, R.J. Spekman  “Romita pottery revisited: a reassessment of the provenance of ceramics from Colonial Mexico by LA-MC-ICP-MS” Journal of Archaeological Science  37:2698-2704.

2010 “Incumbents and Challengers: Indigenous Politics and the Adoption of Spanish Material Culture in Colonial Xaltocan, Mexico” Historical Archaeology 44(2):51-71.

2008 “The Aztecs After the Conquest”, in The Aztec World, edited by Elizabeth Brumfiel and Gary Feinman, pp.195-208. Abrams.

2008 “De la Edad de Piedra a la Edad de más Piedra” Cuadernos de Arqueología Mediterránea Vol. XVII: 15-30. Barcelona.

2008 “Narratives of Conquest, Colonialism, and Cutting-edge Technology.” American Anthropologist. 110(1):33-41.


archaeology, history, ethnohistory, Mesoamerica, the Spanish empire in Latin America, Mexico, Puerto Rico, archaeometry (INAA and LA-ICP-MS), colonialism, religious conversion, food

T C 357 • Anthro, Tech, & Practcl Reason

43760 • Spring 2014
Meets TTH 930am-1100am SAC 5.118
show description


            A great paradox exists in the history of technological change.  On the one hand, anthropologists and other scholars have argued that practicality and efficiency are concepts that depend on their cultural and historical context.  That is, different people have different ideas of what is practical, and they will develop solutions to their problems depending on their own notion of practicality.  On the other hand, there are large-scale patterns in the history of technological change, such as a shift from stone tools to metal, and now to machines and computers.  That is, in general, human history has followed similar large-scale changes in technological change in spite of the differences that we would expect if it is true that practicality and efficiency are concepts that vary depending on cultural context.  How can we make sense of this apparent contradiction?  What factors can explain technological change over long periods of time and also in specific historical moments and contexts?  How can we create narratives of technological change that reflect this process accurately and with clarity?  How can we use our knowledge of technological change to change the world?

            This class will provide students with an introduction to STS (Studies in Technology and Society, or Science, Technology, and Society), and to important texts in the anthropology of technology.  We will examine a variety of approaches to the study of technology, including behavioral, evolutionary, and social constructionist approaches, among others.  We will draw from a variety of sources, including archaeology, ethnography, sociology, and social theory.  During the semester, we will examine closely a few technological examples, including the change from stone tools to metals, the origins of writing, colonialism and the spread of European technologies, and others. 


            Class will begin as mostly lecture toward the beginning of the semester, and it will slowly incorporate more discussion as the semester progresses and students gain a clearer understanding of the subject matter.  When discussion begins, students will be required to write a set of questions based on the readings and bring them to class.  We will all then work together, quickly, to make students’ questions appropriate for discussion.  Written assignments will include a one page statement or précis for the term paper, in order for me to assess whether the topic is well defined and to help guide students to the appropriate literature.  Following approval of the main topic, students will be required to turn in an annotated bibliography of the seven main sources they will use for their term paper.  The main written assignment will be a term paper of 12 to 15 pages on a topic related to our class.

            Grades will be broken down as follows:

            Attendance and participation:                                       30%

            Topic statement and annotated bibliography:                 30%

            Term paper:                                                                40%


Applying to the graduate program

Here are the answers to some common questions regarding the graduate program and admissions:

Q: Are you admitting students next year?

A: Maybe.  It depends on how many students we can fund, and on the quality of the applicants.  I always recommend that people apply because even if we have limited admissions, perhaps their application will rise to the top.  Give it a good shot.

Q: What can I do to increase my chances of admission?

A:  The answer to this question includes everything you already know:

--A good statement of purpose is absolutely necessary for admission.  Be clear about what your goals are in graduate school.  Tell us what topics and regions interest you and why.  Tell us why you think Texas would be a good school for you, given your interests.  Mention what faculty that you would like to work with. 

--The higher your GPA, the better your chances of admission.

--The higher your GRE, the better your chances of admission.

--Good letters of recommendation are necessary for admission.

--You should have field experience in archaeology, whether in field schools, as part of archaeological projects, CRM, or all of the above. 

Q: Is there funding for graduate students?

A: Yes.  In recent years we have admitted students only if we can fund them with a combination of stipend, tuition, and teaching assistantships.  Regardless of their funding necessities, I always encourage students to apply for external funding from the National Science Foundation, Ford Foundation, Ford International, and any other agency for which they may qualify.  All of my students are required to apply for external funding on the first year of graduate school.

Q: What is your area of specialization?

A: I am an archaeologist and I work primarily in Central Mexico on the Aztecs and Spanish colonizers.  I have worked in Mexico City, with the Programa de Arqueologia Urbana of the Templo Mayor Museum, doing research on Spanish colonizers and their material belongings, their interaction with indigenous people, and their everyday lives.  I have also worked in Xaltocan, a town north of Mexico City, doing research on indigenous people before and after the Spanish conquest of the town.  I have used a variety of methods in my research, including archaeological excavation, NAA, ICP-MS, lithic typology, XRF, ceramic typology, archival research, and others. I have many interests, including materiality, food, cooking, gender, and on and on.  You can get a good idea of my interests by consulting my publications page.

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