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Dr Elizabeth DeMarrais

Subject Archaeology and Anthropology
Fellow type Lecturers, Professors and College Officers
Year started 2000
Position Postgraduate Tutor
Department Postgraduate Office
Email address


I am an archaeologist specialising in Andean South America. My current research interests centre on the dynamics of social groups in the past. I'm currently editing an issue of World Archaeology entitled 'The Archaeology of Coalition and Consensus' that seeks an understanding of the ways that people built alliances, forged consensus, and cooperated in past societies where 'top-down' leadership was weak or absent. Related themes, upon which I'm currently working, include affect and emotion (and ways we can recognise these in the archaeological record), art, and heterarchy.

More generally, I have worked on understanding community organization through study of the built environment, as well as writing about early states (the Inka empire) and particularly the importance of ideologies in materialising power relations. I also have broad interests in the origins of social inequality in the human past, the emergence of leadership, and 'bottom-up' patterns of social integration. I seek to understand why people give up their freedom to accept leaders.

I have studied 'middle-range' societies in the archaeology of the Andes, Hawaii, and the American Southwest to answer these questions. My most sustained fieldwork has been in the Calchaqui Valley of Salta Province, Argentina; this work is currently being written up for publication. The archaeology of daily life and heterarchical social order is being investigated through the publication of excavations undertaken from 1998-2006 at Borgatta, a large site in Cachi Adentro, in Salta Province. I am also publishing the results of a regional survey of the northern Calchaqui Valley that documented long-term change in settlement patterns, agricultural production, and social interaction.

My long-standing theoretical interests include ideology and politics, material culture, practice theory, and power relations. Future plans include further study of art, affect, and social relations, with the intention to expand research on rock-art.

College positions


Director of Studies in HSPS for Part I, and also for Part II Archaeology & Biological Anthropology


Undergraduate Tutor