Stacie M. King

Stacie M. King

Professor, Anthropology

Chair, Anthropology

Associate Faculty, Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies


  • Ph.D., Anthropology, University of California-Berkeley, 2003
  • M.A., Anthropology, Vanderbilt University, 1999
  • B.A., Anthropology, Mount Holyoke College, 1993

About Stacie M. King

My research focuses on the peoples of Oaxaca, Mexico between 1500 B.C. to the present. I am particularly interested in how people in the past negotiated their place in the social, political, and economic world around them. I am interested in the ways that people figure out and creatively construct who they are, how they materially mark themselves in different social settings, and how they experience life as people with multiple overlapping and intersecting social identities.

In 2007, I initiated archaeological research in the Nejapa region of southeastern Oaxaca, Mexico. My ultimate goal in founding the Nejapa/Tavela Archaeological Project is to establish an engaged, collaborative archaeological project focused on the region’s long-term transconquest history. Nejapa is a mountainous zone that lies halfway between the arid, highland Central Valleys and the lowland coastal Isthmus of Tehuantepec. Nejapa lies alongside a major trade corridor that supplied highland urban centers with coastal chocolate, cotton, and salt for thousands of years. The area experienced multiple small and large-scale movements of people from as early as the Olmec period through the Colonial period. My research explores these shifting multi-ethnic landscapes, with a specific focus on Mixe, Chontal, Zapotec, Aztec, and Spanish presence. For the earliest sites, I examine how people living along trade routes in rural areas interacted with urban empires—how the economies, politics, and social identities of people in intermediate zones were (or were not) intertwined with those in more urban areas. Between A.D. 1400 and 1600, Nejapa’s indigenous residents experienced the intrusion of Zapotecs, Aztecs, and Spanish in rapid succession. My National Science Foundation funded project examined people’s social and economic relationships with each other and with foreign merchants, militaries, or migrants. Through archaeological survey, we systematically documented and mapped at least 150 archaeological sites and registered these sites with the Mexican government. Excavations have helped us to develop and refine the regional ceramic chronology and have revealed some of the complexities of living in a contested multi-ethnic political and economic landscape. So far, our team has worked in five different municipalities (Santa Ana Tavela, Nejapa de Madero, San Juan Lajarcia, San Bartolo Yautepec, and San Carlos Yautepec). Three graduate students conduct dissertation fieldwork in Nejapa and neighboring regions (Elizabeth Konwest, Alex Badillo and Marijke Stoll). By studying Late Postclassic/Early Colonial period archaeological sites, we hope to produce a more nuanced and historically accurate account of colonial cultural entanglements in Oaxaca.

An important part of this work focuses on colonial period sites: the abandoned early Colonial period town of Majaltepec (Maxaltepeque) and the impressive casas principales of now-abandoned haciendas, one of which was the fifth largest hacienda in the state of Oaxaca around 1900. Since 2008, we have visited archives in Oaxaca and Mexico City and have located documents pertaining to these places. The first haciendas were established in the 1600s and changed ownership many times throughout the next three centuries. The town of Majaltepec, in the mountains above Santa Ana Tavela, likely existed as a Mixe village when the Spanish first arrived and was abandoned sometime after 1780. The best sources of information about these places, however, are the many older residents of the region with whom we have talked. In June 2008, we recorded oral histories with community elders, who have kindly let us into their homes and shared their memories with us. Archaeological studies at Majaltepec confirm (so far) a late 16th century date of occupation. In the future, I plan to write about the hacienda experience in Colonial and Post-colonial Oaxaca, Majaltepec and Spanish Colonial congregación policies, as well as the intersections between oral history, archaeology and archival research. I also have an interest in tracing the ancient and modern pilgrimage routes that connect Nejapa to neighboring regions.

My previous research at the site of Río Viejo on the coast of Oaxaca, Mexico explored the economic specialization in cotton cloth and thread production, the organization of space in residential areas, mortuary practices and burial beneath houses, reuse and social memory, musical instruments and soundscapes, and the relationship between commensality and household membership. I used soil chemistry, paleoethnobotany, and micromorphology as methods to address daily practices of food preparation, cooking, and food sharing at Río Viejo. In this research, I showed that age was a more strongly materially marked vector of identity in coastal Oaxaca (A.D. 900-1100) than gender. At the site of Río Viejo in coastal Oaxaca, male and female adult household members were treated similarly in death, buried beneath the house floors as important ancestors for those still living.

At IU, I teach undergraduates and graduate students in the following courses: COLL E104 Rise and Fall of Ancient Civilizations, P200 Introduction to Archaeology, P350 Archaeology of Mexico, P375/P575 Food in the Ancient World, E600/P502 Archaeological Research Design, and P509 Archaeological Ethics. In Summers 2008, 2012, and 2015, I served as the lead director of IU Overseas Study’s Anthropology Field Program in Oaxaca, Mexico, which I co-taught with Profs. Anya Royce and Dan Suslak. In 2020, I reworked the program into the joint College Collins Living and Learning Community course titled “Self-Governance, Sustainability, and the Arts in Oaxaca, Mexico” (ANTH A208 and CLLC L210), which is taught both on-campus at IU, and includes 2 weeks of travel in Mexico.

Selected Publications

2021. Stacie M. King. Conquests and Colonialisms in Postclassic and Early Colonial Nejapa, Oaxaca. In, Mesoamerican Archaeology: Theory and Practice, 2nd edition, edited by Julia Hendon, Lisa Overholtzer, and Rosemary A. Joyce. pp. 229-256. Wiley Blackwell.

2020. Andrew Workinger and Stacie M. King. Obsidian on the Periphery: Importation, Production, and Raw Material Husbandry in the Nejapa/Tavela Region of Oaxaca, Mexico. Journal of Field Archaeology 45(8):621-634.

2020. Stacie M. King. Pluralism and Persistence in the Colonial Sierra Sur of Oaxaca, Mexico. In, The Global Spanish Empire: Five Hundred Years of Place Making and Pluralism, edited by Christine D. Beaule and John G. Douglass, pp. 105-129. Amerind Studies in Anthropology. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.

2019. Stacie M. King and Elizabeth Konwest. New Materials – New Technologies? Postclassic and Early Colonial Technological Transitions in the Nejapa Region of Oaxaca, Mexico. In, Technology and Tradition in Mesoamerica after the Spanish Invasion, edited by Rani T. Alexander, pp. 73-92. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.

2012. Elizabeth Konwest and Stacie M. King. Moving Toward Public Archaeology in the Nejapa Valley of Oaxaca, Mexico. Chungara, Revista de Antropología Chilena 44(3):499-509.

2012. Stacie M. King. Hidden Transcripts, Contested Landscapes, and Long-Term Indigenous History in Oaxaca, Mexico. In, Decolonizing Indigenous Histories: Exploring Prehistoric/Colonial Transitions in Archaeology, edited by Maxine Oland, Siobhan M. Hart, and Liam Frink, pp. 230-263. University of Arizona Press, Tucson.

2011. Stacie M. King. Thread Production in Early Postclassic Coastal Oaxaca, Mexico: Technology, Intensity, and Gender. Ancient Mesoamerica 22(2):323-343.

2011. Stacie M. King and Gonzalo Sánchez Santiago. Soundscapes of the Everyday in Ancient Coastal Oaxaca, Mexico (with a digital appendix of sound recordings.) Archaeologies 7(2):387-422.

2011. Ron L. Adams and Stacie M. King. Residential Burial in Global Perspective. In Residential Burial: A Multiregional Exploration, edited by Ron L. Adams and Stacie M. King, pp. 1 - 16. Archeological Papers of the American Anthropological Association, Number 20.

2011. Stacie M. King. Remembering One and All: Early Postclassic Residential Burial in Coastal Oaxaca, Mexico. In Residential Burial: A Multiregional Exploration, edited by Ron L. Adams and Stacie M. King, pp. 44 - 58. Archeological Papers of the American Anthropological Association, Number 20.

2008. Stacie M. King. Interregional Networks of the Oaxacan Early Postclassic. In After Monte Albán: Transformation and Negotiation in Late Classic/Postclassic Oaxaca, Mexico, edited by Jeffrey A. Blomster, pp. 255 - 291. University Press of Colorado, Boulder.