Severin Fowles

Associate Professor of Anthropology Barnard College
Director of Archaeology Track in Anthropology
Barnard College

Severin Fowles is is an assistant professor in the Barnard Department of Anthropology. Trained as an anthropological archaeologist, his research centers on questions related to premodern religion, cultural landscapes, human-object relations, indigeneity, Native American studies, and the archaeology of the present. Since 1996, he has undertaken archaeological fieldwork in northern New Mexico each summer, directing projects ranging from excavations at a large 13th century Ancestral Pueblo village, to landscape surveys in the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, to excavations at a Spanish colonial village, to excavations at a 1960s hippie commune. His work is vigorously collaborative, with respect to both the undergraduate and PhD students from Barnard and Columbia who join his field crews, as well as the many descendant communities in the Southwest who serve as consultants and advisers.

Prof. Fowles is the author of An Archaeology of Doings: Secularism and the Study of Pueblo Religion (2013, School for Advanced Research Press), which explores the changing religious worlds of Pueblo communities in northern New Mexico from the eleventh century to the present. His current research builds from his landscape surveys in the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, in particular from his discovery of a vast distribution of elaborate early eighteenth century rock art panels in the Plains Biographic style. Working closely with the Tribal Historic Preservation Office of the Comanche Nation, Prof. Fowles is drawing upon this iconography and its associated archaeological traces to write a new history of 18th century New Mexico that foregrounds the political agency of native Plains tribes. During the 2014-2015 academic year, he will be completing his second book, Comanche New Mexico: An Archaeology, while residing at the School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe as both a Weatherhead Fellow and an American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) Fellow.

On campus at Barnard, Prof. Fowles directs the Archaeological Track in the Anthropology Department, and he teaches a variety of introductory and upper-level courses including "Origins of Human Society," "Pre-Columbian Histories of Native America," "Archaeology of Idols," "Thing Theory," and "Archaeologies of the Contemporary Past." While away from campus during the summer, he directs Barnard's field program in New Mexico, which creates an opportunity for Barnard and Columbia students to learn the methods of archaeological survey and excavation.