Laura Steele Awarded Fulbright Fellowship

Departmental News

Posted:  May 28, 2020 - 12:00pm

Laura Ward Steele, Archaeology PhD student, has been awarded a Fulbright Fellowship this year. Her dissertation research explores the ripple effect of imperialism on Indigenous communities along the southern margins of Spanish imperial expansion in what is known today as central western Argentina. Specifically, her research examines the temporality and severity of imperial impact on the margins of the Spanish empire. Her research employs zooarchaeological analysis, the study of animal bones from archaeological sites, to address questions related to Spanish imperialism. While it was devastating for those who lived in the northern part of Mendoza province, Laura’s dissertation focuses on foodways of Indigenous groups farther south. Foodways—how communities procure and prepare food—often play central roles in defining and signaling cultural identity. Laura is interested in the long-durée of Indigenous communities as they persisted and renegotiated their identities through food along the imperial-borderland. Her dissertation will establish a comparative case study to complement the work done in the north and examine how, over two centuries, the more mobile and less complexly organized southern Indigenous people, navigated Spanish imperialism that began in the mid-16th century.

Anthropology has traditionally favored the study of large, prominent imperial centers over that of the smaller communities they affect. Laura’s research will contribute to rectifying this imbalance while learning from and sharing with Argentinian zooarchaeological experts. With the Fulbright Research Grant will her dissertation research will be supported for a longer stay in Argentina to complete her dissertation research and continue her work with archaeologists and graduate students at the Centro Technológico de Desarrollo Regional Los Reyunos. She is excited for the opportunity to establish a collaborative foundation and open the door for other students and researchers to participate in long-term joint studies in Argentina.

Read the full UNM News article here