Anthropology Department Directory


Michael Adler

Director of SMU-in-Taos

Ph.D. 1990 University of Michigan


Dallas Contact Information:


6185 Airline, Suite 338
Dallas, TX 75205
(214) 768-3657
Fax: (214) 768-1166

New Mexico Contact Information:

Fort Burgwin:
6580 Highway 518
Ranchos de Taos, NM 87557
(575) 758-8322
Fax: (575) 758-9269


Fathoming Community, Identity, and Ancestry in the American SW

Michael Adler develops theoretical and methodological tools to understand the development of village aggregation in the American Southwest. His research asks:

What role does the concept of ancestry play in the differentiation of human populations into separate communities?

To what extent was competition over resources involved in the creation of the first "urban" settlements among the ancestral Pueblo peoples of the SW?
What role did ethnic differentiation play in the differentiation of ancestral Pueble communities between A.D. 1250-1450?

Dr. Adler integrates his research into his ongoing educational programs in the SMU archaeology field school. Recently, his excavations at Chaves-Hummingbird Pueblo near Albuquerque, NM, marked the third year SMU field school participants have participated in the ongoing research at this major archaeological site.

One exciting facet of Mike Adler's research is the active inclusion of descendant Native American communities from Acoma, Laguna, Hopi, and Zuni Pueblos in his research. His recent National Science Foundation grant enabled him to involve elders from these pueblos in the investigation of cultural affiliation and ethnic identity from archaeological and indigenous perspectives.

Toward these ends, his theoretical contributions aim at concepts pertinent to our changing world including the interaction of ancestry, ethnicity, and cultural difference. Central to these understandings is the concept of cultural affiliation. The question of "who" created the rich record of human ancestry in the Southwest is much more than just an academic question or an issue of ethnic pride. Understanding how cultural affiliation is determined stands as THE central challenge that must be met, since ancestry and cultural links to the past frame many current social and political issues. If we better understand how the past is used in justifying, representing, and reproducing present day group interactions, we will provide a stronger foundation for future understandings of cultural difference.

Selected Publications:

For a comprehensive listing of published works by Dr. Adler, please click here.

Memberships and Affiliations:
Society for American Archaeology
Register of Professional Archaeologists (RPA)