Severin Fowles

Associate Professor of Anthropology



As an archaeologist, my research takes up questions of religion, visual culture, cultural landscapes, indigeneity, Native American studies, and the archaeology of the present. Since 1996, I have undertaken archaeological fieldwork in northern New Mexico each summer, directing projects ranging from excavations at a large 13th century Ancestral Pueblo village, to landscape surveys in the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, to excavations at a Spanish colonial village, to excavations at a 1960s hippie commune. My first book, An Archaeology of Doings: Secularism and the Study of Pueblo Religion (2013, School for Advanced Research), explored the changing “religious” worlds of Pueblo communities in northern New Mexico from the eleventh century to the present, drawing upon this history to critically reevaluate the secular premises that adhere to archaeological claims about premodern religion. My second book, Comanche Afterimages: Visual Culture and History in Northern New Mexico (in prep), builds from my ongoing landscape surveys in the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, in the course of which I and my colleagues have discovered of a major distribution of elaborate early eighteenth century rock art panels in the Plains Biographic style. Working collaboratively with members of the Comanche Nation, I am drawing upon this iconography and its associated archaeological traces to write a new history of 18th century New Mexico that foregrounds the political agency of native Plains tribes.

On campus at Barnard, I direct the Archaeology Track in the Barnard Anthropology Department, and I teach a variety of introductory and upper-level courses including "Origins of Human Society," "Pre-Columbian Histories of Native America," "Archaeology of Idols," "Thing Theory," and "Archaeologies of the Contemporary Past." While away from campus during the summer, I direct Barnard's field program in New Mexico, which creates an opportunity for Barnard and Columbia students to learn methods of archaeological survey and excavation.


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