Clearly archaeology is more than digging in the dirt. Just ask Alexandra Miller, a senior from Evanston who worked as a supervising excavator at the Aztec site of Xaltocan in Mexico with anthropology professor Elizabeth Brumfiel and at the Mayan site of Chan in Belize with anthropology associate professor Cynthia Robin.
As supervising excavator she described and identified the finds and supervised and helped train local workers in excavation techniques. Working with local people “in an effort to bring more of their history to light” was a central aspect of both digs for Miller.
“While most people tend to think that archaeologists only discover bones, when you work with local people there are all sorts of interesting ideas about heritage, nationalism, history and modernity that come up in your work,” says Miller.
Her research interests include economic and political inequality, topics she’s researched in the context of Mayan society and the Aztec Empire.
At Northwestern she’s been involved in the Undergraduate Anthropology Society and the Northwestern University Conference on Human Rights. She also has an article in press in the Archeological Papers of the American Anthropological Association on women’s roles and gender relations during the development of North African pastoralism.
In the future Miller hopes to work with an international development organization and conduct academic research with the goal of bringing attention to the processes that create economic inequality in the world.
“I think that many well-informed and intelligent people remain unaware of the ways in which U.S. choices impact other countries’ economies and the global environment,” she says.
— Elizabeth Henley (WCAS09)