I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Wichita State University. My research focuses on the daily practices of ordinary people living under empire in central Mexico. I have conducted extensive fieldwork at Xaltocan, a Postclassic and Colonial period site in central Mexico, where I investigated how local household life was transformed under successive imperial conquests. By exploring the way in which ordinary people reconfigured their material surroundings and (re)formed their daily lives after two drastic military defeats, this research re-centers our understanding of Aztec and Spanish colonial empires around the lives of rural commoners. My research employs a bottom-up perspective in theory and in practice, and I am committed to decolonizing archaeological practice through community archaeology and collaboration with descendant communities.
More broadly, my research works to bridge disciplinary chasms between archaeological theorists and archaeological scientists through the application of geoarchaeological and molecular archaeology analyses to research questions derived from social theories of materiality, agency and practice, and embodiment. My research interests include the study of households and the articulation between the macro- and micro-scales of society; space and place; and gender, ethnic, and age-based identities in ancient Mesoamerica. Analytical specialties include analysis of ceramics, especially figurines and decorated serving vessels, geochemical provenance analyses, and ancient DNA analysis.
I have created this page to share my research, grant proposals, and eventually, data. It is still a work in progress. Please feel free to email me at lisa.overholtzer at wichita dot edu with any comments or suggestions.
NEW! Click here to see my most recently released article, “Archaeological Interpretation and the Rewriting of History: Deimperializing and Decolonizing the Past at Xaltocan, Mexico,” published in American Anthropologist.
NEW! Click here to see press coverage of my recent publication on the genetic impact of Aztec imperialism, carried out in collaboration with scholars at the University of Texas Austin. To see the original article published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, click here.