Women's Activism NYC

Dr. Verónica Pérez Rodríguez

By: Abigail Wilson | Date Added:

Dr. Verónica Pérez Rodríguez is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University at Albany, State University of New York (SUNY). She earned a B.A. in Anthropology as well as a B.A. in Linguistics from the University of Texas at El Paso. Rodríguez then attended graduate school at the University of Georgia where in 2003 she was awarded her Ph.D. in Ecological and Environmental Anthropology. She served on the faculty at Northern Arizona University before joining the faculty at the University at Albany, SUNY in 2013. She is an archaeologist and anthropologist who is interested in studying people and life in cities over time. Visiting archaeological sites was a formative part of Rodríguez’s childhood. Her grandfather was a worker at a field site led by a famous female archaeologist. Through her work, she examines how people lived many years ago, what brought them to cities, what made them stay, what were the tradeoffs, and what were the environmental impacts. Her work focuses on the highlands of the Mixteca Alta in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca. This region was a cradle of urbanism, innovation, and complex societies as early as 300 BC. She became interested in this region when she was an undergraduate, she had a great opportunity to do field work in Oaxaca, Mexico, and she fell in love with the place and its history. While working at this field site, Rodríguez met the scientist who would later become her graduate school advisor, and she continues to study this region in her lab today. In her research Rodríguez employs an ecological and historical perspective to study social complexity, urbanism, and agriculture in Mesoamerica. By looking beyond the single archaeological site and instead focusing on settlement patterns, regions, and the surrounding landscape archaeologists can look at large-scale spatial and temporal patterns of social organization, land use, and their environmental impact. The Mixteca Alta’s high elevation, varying temperatures, topography, seasonal rain, and aridity patterns make agriculture a difficult proposition and yet early agricultural villages flourished there in the formative period. These societies eventually gave way to early urban centers and later to the famous cacicazgos or ñuu that were the stuff of legend and the subject of fascinating Mixtec codices. This highland region, which has not received as much scholarly attention as the neighboring Valley of Oaxaca, developed an interesting pattern of urbanism in hilltop urban centers that integrated elaborate terrace systems in their layout. Rodríguez’s research focuses on understanding different ways that humans have experimented with urban living. In recent and previous studies Rodríguez has sought to integrate archaeological methods, including GIS with ethnography, ethnohistory, soil and geomorphological studies to look closely at the development of agricultural landscapes and urban centers in the Mixteca Alta. She tries to integrate into her research the interests and concerns of the people and local communities in which her field research takes place. Her current research at Cerro Jazmín investigates highland urbanism and its use of green and agricultural spaces, especially terracing in their layout. By working with geomorphologists and other scholars this research also investigates the environmental impact and potential sustainability of this form of urbanism. Rodríguez hopes that what archaeologists and anthropologists learn about successful and failed attempts of urbanism in the past can inform current attempts to live in cities successfully and sustainably.

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