Keith Malcolm Prufer
Department of Anthropology - University of New Mexico

RESEARCH
INTERESTS

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PUBLICATIONS &
PRESENTATIONS

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CURRENT PROJECTS

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COURSES


COURSES

Mesoamerican Prehistory, Fall 07
This course is an introduction to the major cultural developments in Mesoamerica from the arrival of Paleoindian indigenous peoples up to the conquest of Mesoamerica by the Spaniards in the 16th and 17th centuries. In addition to describing the various regional cultural developments, the course will also examine cultural transformations across time and space.  The course covers the major culture areas of Mesoamerica including Central Mexico, the Gulf Coast Region, Oaxaca, and the Maya area.  We will look at numerous cultural developments, including Monte Alban, Teotihuacán, the Olmec, the Aztec, and Highland and Lowland Maya.

Graduate Seminar in Maya Archaeology Spring 08
During the 9th and 10th centuries AD Mayan societies underwent dramatic transitions culminating in what has commonly been referred to the as the “collapse.” This transformation occurred in the context of explosive population growth, an expanding elite class, increased conflict and militarism, as well as severe environmental stresses. The immediate consequences were the abandonment of major urban centers, the disintegration of a political ideology that had developed over ten centuries, significant demographic shifts, and changes in economic networks.  In this seminar we will study the processes underlying these changes and look critically at the catalysts of sweeping societal breakdown. Was this really a “collapse” or just the massive reorganization of Maya societies? Events preceding the transformation and its aftermath will be examined across both time and space. The utility of both agent-based and ecological explanatory models will be assessed.  Since the disintegration of complex polities has important implications for other archaeological and modern societies, our analysis will be broadly comparative, drawing on a range of theoretical and methodological perspectives from across the sciences.  

Introduction to Anthropology Spring 08
This course is an introduction to one of the most exciting areas of study in the social sciences: Anthropology.  We define anthropology as the study of the human condition, past, present and future, and anthropologists are concerned with what makes us human and what makes us tick.  Anthropology is one of the oldest fields in the social sciences, and anthropology at UNM is one of the oldest programs in the country.  As part of this course we will survey different problems or questions that set the scope of modern anthropological thought. We will touch on issues of human evolution, the study of primates, modern human diversity and genetics. We will explore the development of human societies, both ancient and modern. Through inspection of different cultural forms and encounters we will examine how the self (whether a racial, ethnic, gender, national or class identity) is forged in relation to the other (images and views of cultural difference).

Ethnography and Archaeology of Community Spring 2009
In most western forums, archaeology has traditionally been perceived as the gatekeeper of the past.  But excavating, interpreting and displaying the past have implications far beyond the academy.  Around the world, local communities, ethnic groups, nation-states and other stakeholders all construct their present identities in relationship to interpreted histories, and often in markedly different ways. When they intersect, competing representations frequently collide with disastrous results, rather than expanding our understanding of the human condition.  This class will explore the relationship between archeological practices and contemporary communities. Using ethnography as an analytic lens, we will problematize the boundaries between different constructions of the past and discuss current debates surrounding the notion of collective heritage.

ANTH 570 Human Behavioral Responses to Environmental Change Spring 2010
Human responses remain an insufficiently studied part of the subject of climate change, in part because is issues of scale. In this seminar we will examine adaptive strategies of humans to deal with climate change at levels from agents to complex polities. We will explore these strategies from the perspectives of resilience theory, self organizing systems, and human behavioral ecology. Though we will primarily focus on archaeological examples, we will also examine a number of new studies looking at contemporary responses to climate change in varying societies. Seminar discussions and readings will focus on (a) examining what climate change is and potential ecological impacts; (b) identifying new and old proxies for measuring climate change in the past, and the means we have to evaluate their efficacy for informing studies of human decision making; (c) resolving issues of scale and temporality, and; (d) exploring human responses, including proximate and cascading effects. Case studies will be drawn from North, Central, and South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. Time-scales will range from early hominins to pre-industrial agrarian states, but focus primarily on late Pleistocene and Holocene periods.