University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Cain, Tiffany

Tiffany Cain
Department of Anthropology
Elected 2012

Tiffany is a doctoral student in the Department of Anthropology, presently focusing on Mesoamerican historical archaeology and cultural heritage. On a broader scale she is interested in a number of topics: cultural heritage ethics; intangible heritage; collective memory and social histories; indigenous and diasporic archaeologies; archaeology of colonialism; archaeologies of rebellion; landscape archaeology; race and gender; politics of recognition; reconciliation; historical anthropology; materiality; and semiotics. Her areas of interest include Western Australia, the Americas, and more recently Maya Yucatan.

Tiffany's current research is anchored by historical archaeological investigations of the Caste War of Yucatan (1847–1901). These investigations form the archaeological sub-program of a community-based participatory research project, the Tihosuco Heritage Preservation and Community Development Project, located in Tihosuco, Quintana Roo, Mexico. This project is a collaboration between the Museo de la Guerra de Castas, the Ejido of Tihosuco, and the Penn Cultural Heritage Center. Tiffany's dissertation research will focus on the ways in which both the material remains and symbolic representations of historical, violent conflict discursively circulates to inform people's present-day political consciousness and imaginations of the future. Her research seeks to push the limits of the pragmatic application of archaeological projects while thinking critically about the sociopolitics of heritage and its interplay with community development through community-organized participatory research.

Tiffany received her M.A. in Anthropology and her B.A. in Archaeology with Honors, while minoring in International Relations, from Stanford University. At Stanford, Tiffany was awarded the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship, the Vice Provost for Graduate Education's Academic Achievement Award, the Dean's Award for Academic Excellence, and was the recipient of a number of independent research grants. She joined the Department of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania in the fall of 2012 as both a Louis J. Kolb and a William Fontaine Fellow.

Tiffany's Master's research with Martu communities of Western Australia addressed similar issues, centering on Western Australia's Canning Stock Route and the complexities of reconciling conflicting notions of value, significance, and identity in the region. More specifically, she explored archaeology's role in the interwoven debates surrounding reconciliation, heritage and cultural landscapes. She has conducted archaeological investigations at several sites including Catalhoyuk, Turkey (2008, 2009), Binchester Roman Fort, Durham, England (2010), and throughout the San Francisco Bay Area where she worked as a Research Associate for Archeo-Tec, Inc. Consulting Archaeologists. 

She has presented her research in several forums including the annual meetings of the American Anthropological Association, the Society for American Archaeology, the Society for Applied Anthropology, the Theoretical Archaeology Group, as well as at the Native American Research Forum, the Native American and Indigenous Studies Center (Penn), the Maya Research Symposium, the Stanford Archaeology Center, and the Douglas G. Lovell, Jr., Annual "Reports from the Field" at the Penn museum. She is also the Contributing Editor for the Association of Black Anthropologists' Anthropology News section. She previously served as Editor-in-Chief for the Stanford Department of Anthropology's undergraduate journal, Problematics. Tiffany has also served on a number of university and departmental committees at both Penn and Stanford.


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