My teaching and research revolve around early complex societies, especially in Mesoamerica. My field work continues a long-term involvement in survey and excavation in the lower Ulúa valley in Honduras.
My research interests center on early complex societies and how archaeology can explore the processes through which they develop. How do distinctions in status, wealth, and authority emerge within and between communities? Under what circumstances do these distinctions intensify into stratification? How does stratification relate to the centralization of political power, to the emergence of kings and states?
Another set of interests revolves around notions of identity. How are the groups with which people associate themselves, the categories to which they see themselves as belonging, reflected in material remains? How do these categories relate to the analytical categories archaeologists use?
I explore these issues through material remains, imagery, and written texts in Mesoamerica. A long-term involvement in survey and excavation in the lower Ulúa valley in Honduras, a region in which the cultural affiliations of ancient populations and the emergence of social stratification are particularly salient, has intensified my interest in the ways that the data of settlement and household archaeology may be used to address these issues.
- Being “Olmec” in Early Formative period Honduras 187-200. (with Rosemary Joyce). Ancient Mesoamerica. 21:187-200. 2010
- Chemical and archaeological evidence for the earliest cacao beverages. (with Rosemary Joyce, Gretchen Hall, Jeffrey Hurst, and Patrick McGovern).. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 104:18937-18940. 2007
- From Feasting to Cuisine: Implications of Archaeological Research in an Early Honduran Village. (with Rosemary Joyce). American Anthropologist. 642-653. 2007
- Beginnings of Village Life in Eastern Mesoamerica. (with Rosemary Joyce). Latin American Antiquity. 5-23. 2001
- The southeastern fringe of Mesoamerica. (with Kathryn M. Hudson).. Oxford Handbook of Mesoamerican Archaeology. New York: Cambridge University Press. 482-494. 2012
- Forming Mesoamerican Taste: Cacao Consumption in Formative Period Contexts. (with Rosemary Joyce). Pre-Columbian Foodways. Ed. Staller, John. New York: Springer. 157-173. 2010
- Brewing Distinction : The Development of Cacao Beverages in Formative Mesoamerica. (with Rosemary Joyce). Chocolate in Mesoamerica: A Cultural History of Cacao. Ed. Cameron, McNeil. University Press of Florida. 140-153. 2006
- The Plunder of the Ulúa Valley, Honduras, and a Market Analysis For Its Antiquities. (with Christina Luke). Archaeology and the Commodification of Material Culture. Ed. Kersel, Morag . University Press of Florida. 147-172. 2006