Stacie M. King

Stacie M. King

Associate Professor, 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 started an archaeological research project in the Nejapa region of southeastern Oaxaca, Mexico. 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, thus, 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 Olmec, 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 Valley Zapotecs, Aztecs, and Spanish in rapid succession. My National Science Foundation funded project examines people’s social and economic relationships with each other and with foreign merchants, militaries, or migrants. In our archaeological survey, we have systematically documented and mapped at least 150 archaeological sites and have 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, I have worked in five different municipalities (Santa Ana Tavela, Nejapa de Madero, San Juan Lajarcia, San Bartolo Yautepec, and San Carlos Yautepec). Three IU graduate students will conduct dissertation fieldwork in Nejapa and neighboring regions. By studying Late Postclassic/Early Colonial period archaeological sites, I hope to produce a more nuanced and historically accurate account of colonial cultural entanglements in Oaxaca.

An important subproject 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, I 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. My best sources of information about these places, however, are the many older residents of the region with whom I have talked. In June 2008, I recorded oral histories with community elders, who have kindly let me into their homes and shared their memories with me. Archaeological studies at Majaltepec confirm (so far) a late 16th century date of occupation. In addition to creating archival quality DVDs of the oral history interviews for local archives, 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 ancient and modern pilgrimage routes connecting Nejapa to neighboring regions.

My ultimate goal with this new project is to build a long-term anthropological field program in the Nejapa region, based on holistic anthropological research and engaged, collaborative, community-based archaeological practice.

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 Ancient Mexico, P399/P600 Archaeologies of Identity, P600 Household Archaeology, P375/P575 Food in the Ancient World, and P502 Archaeological Research Design. In Summers 2008 and 2012 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, Dan Suslak, and Catherine Tucker.

Selected Publications

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.