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. She works on feminist approaches to cultural heritage and collective memory; indigenous and diasporic archaeologies, including archaeologies of colonialism; the materialities of violence; and race and indigeneity in Latin America. Her geographical areas of interest include the Americas and Australia.

Tiffany’s dissertation explores how political violence materialized throughout and beyond the period of Spanish/Mexican colonialism in central Quintana Roo, Mexico. Using the Maya Insurrection (also called the Caste War of Yucatan or Maya Social War,1847–1901) as a case study, she advocates an archaeology of political violence that is attentive to its impacts on everyday life. To do so, she revisits how traditional conflict-related processes of fortification and abandonment might be identified and interpreted. Finally, she examines the ways that the materializations of past violence mark present-day notions of heritage and collective identity in one post-conflict Maya community. In so doing, she probes the ways that both the material remains and symbolic representations of historical, violent conflict discursively circulate to inform people's present-day political consciousness and imaginations of the future.

Tiffany's ongoing field research forms the archaeological sub-program of a community-based participatory research project called the Tihosuco Heritage Preservation and Community Development Project, located in Tihosuco, Quintana Roo, Mexico. This project, which her advisor, Dr. Richard Leventhal, co-directs is a collaboration between the Museo de la Guerra de Castas, the Ejido of Tihosuco (land commune), the Alcaldía of Tihosuco (mayor’s office), and the Penn Cultural Heritage Center. Her research seeks to push the limits of the pragmatic application of archaeological projects while thinking critically about the socio-politics of heritage and its interplay with community development through community-organized participatory research.

Previously, Tiffany studied at Stanford University where she received her M.A. in Anthropology and her B.A. in Archaeology with Honors, while minoring in International Relations. Tiffany's Master's research with Martu communities of Western Australia centered on archaeology's role in the interwoven debates surrounding reconciliation, heritage, and cultural landscapes. She has excavated at Tihosuco, Quintana Roo (2017), 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 joined the Department of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania in the fall of 2012. She is a Louis J. Kolb Junior Fellow, William Fontaine Fellow, Mellon Mays Fellow, and Graduate Fellow of the Penn Cultural Heritage Center and the Native American and Indigenous Studies Program. She has presented her research in several forums including the annual meetings of the American Anthropological Association, the Society for American Archaeology, and the Society for Historical Archaeology, among others.


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