My research focuses on how collectives reckon with past violence. I use archaeology, ethnography, and historiography to better understand how past violence influences present-day sociopolitical consciousness and collective imaginations of the future.
Cultural heritage and collective memory; political violence and colonialism; intersections of race, indigeneity, and gender; feminist anthropologies; indigenous and diasporic (historical) archaeologies; time, temporality, materiality; collaborative research methodologies
Broad Areas of Competency
Historical Archaeology/Anthropology; Latin American History; American Indian and Indigenous Studies; Black Studies
Americas (especially Maya Lowlands, Mexico, and USA); Australia
How does political violence materialize across timescales in settler colonial contexts? This central question of my working book manuscript, Things of War: Conflict & Heritage on Mexico's Maya Frontier, responds to what I see as a growing divide between war studies and everyday life studies in the humanities and social sciences. This divide has special influence in studies of colonialism writ large, and colonial violence in particular, because it can render indigenous and Afro-descendent peoples' experiences with and engagements in colonial projects unintelligible. In order to remedy this shortcoming, I present a framework for an archaeology of political violence, defined not as a synonym for war, but as the function of war and structural oppression. The framework I propose emerges from my involvement with a collaborative heritage initiative, the Tihosuco Heritage Preservation and Community Development Project, located in Tihosuco, Quintana Roo, Mexico. The project positioned me to draw on a wide range of media with which to think about the politics surrounding the history of the Caste War of Yucatan—a predominantly Maya anticolonial insurrection that began in the former Tihosuco Parish in 1847. By conventional accounts the war lasted until 1901, making it one of the longest (as well as most successful) indigenous insurrections to have been mounted in the Americas. My dissertation, "Materializing Political Violence: Segregation, War, and Memory in Quintana Roo, Mexico," began to contend with how political violence materializes by investigating the racial geographies of segregation, war, and memory practice in the region. Ultimately, the aim is to arrive at a more holistic approach to investigating violence—and its ramifications—in settler colonial contexts.
WORKS in PROGRESS
Diserens Morgan, Kasey and Tiffany C. Cain, eds. Publication approved for 2021. Coloniality in the Maya Lowlands: Archaeological Perspectives. University Press of Colorado.
Journal Articles & Book Chapters
Cain, Tiffany C. and Kasey Diserens Morgan. Forthcoming (February 2021). “Heritage Activism in Quintana Roo, Mexico: Assembling New Futures through an Umbrella Heritage Practice.” In Trowels in the Trenches: Archaeology as Social Activism, edited by Christopher P. Barton. University Press of Florida.
Cain, Tiffany C. Accepted. "Confronting Violence in the Layered Landscapes of East-Central Quintana Roo." In Coloniality in the Maya Lowlands: Archaeological Perspectives.
Diserens Morgan, Kasey and Tiffany C. Cain. Accepted. "Characterizing an Archaeology of the Recent Past in the Maya Region." In Coloniality in the Maya Lowlands: Archaeological Perspectives.
OTHER RESEARCH EXPERIENCE
Wáyk’a Heritage/Kusta Ceremonial Center Project), Yreka, CA
Director: Dr. Brian Daniels
Culture Conflict Research Network
University of Pennsylvania Museum
American Association for the Advancement of Science
Archeo-Tec, Inc. Consulting Archaeologists
Principal Investigator: Allen G. Pastron, PhD,
Mesa Verde Conservation Assessment Practicum
"Beyond the Chrono-Bar: Exploring the Ramifications of Periodization and Time Distancing at Mesa Verde"
Penn School of Design and Department of Anthropology
Directors: Dr. Clark Erickson and Dr. Frank Matero
Natural and Cultural Heritage Policy Practicum
Daniels, Brian I., Tiffany C. Cain, Maria Fernanda Esteban Palma, et al. "World Heritage Impacts Study Project: Methods for Assessing Economic Value at World Heritage Sites" Prepared for the US Mission to UNESCO, US National Park Service, Office of International Affairs
What role does heritage discourse play in Australian national debates surrounding race, indigeneity, and the unfinished project of Reconciliation?
Durham, UK, 2010
Director: Dr. Michael Shanks (Stanford University)