Sam R. Sweitz
—Fernand Braudel, On History, 1980.
- Associate Professor of Anthropology & Archaeology
- PhD, Anthropology, Texas A&M University, 2005
- BA, Archaeology and History, Boston University, 1994
I am an anthropologically trained archaeologist interested in the impact that the global historical process of industrialization has had on past individuals, societies, and environments and the meaning and relevance of those changes to contemporary people. I am particularly interested in issues related to the evolving articulations created through colonialism, the rise and spread of a capitalist world-economy, and the social, economic, and political processes of globalization. I apply a range of multidisciplinary approaches drawn from anthropology and across the social sciences in order to interpret societal organization and change within the context of the increasing global articulation of individuals, cultures, and environments that has characterized the modern-era. In particular I am interested in how these processes, when viewed from the evolutionary perspective of an archaeology that draws from mixed anthropological methodologies and integrated theoretical frameworks, might inform and provide equitable solutions to contemporary societal issues.
In my current position as an Associate Professor of Anthropology and Archaeology I contribute specifically to our undergraduate majors, including Anthropology, History, and the Social Sciences, as well as our graduate programs in Industrial Archaeology (MS), Industrial Archaeology and Heritage (PhD), and Environmental and Energy Policy (MS and PhD). These efforts include funded research and discovery-based learning opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students in the form of MS and PhD theses, undergraduate Anthropology senior theses, classroom research projects, and summer field schools associated with local, national, and international based research projects, including my ongoing work in Yucatán and Puerto Rico.
In recent years my research agenda has come to reflect a contemporary archaeological approach, i.e. the application of traditional, empirically based archaeological methods and practices to understanding and explaining the contemporary world, informed by a critical social theory that integrates diverse social science approaches in order to critique and change social circumstances through historically informed solutions to local social problems. Essential to such an approach is recognition of the local social mechanisms that have influenced and insured long-term flexibility and adaptability in response to changes in economic activities, market structures, and government policy at the regional, national, and international levels over the long-term. The diverse viewpoints that comprise past and contemporary “local” stakeholder perspectives (intersected by historically informed conceptions of gender, class, ethnicity, race, etc.) need to be explored as fundamental factors in the construction of social knowledge, practice, and identity, the understanding of which is fundamental to identifying and implementing sustainable and equitable solutions to “local” problems. Ultimately, my work in archaeology is predicated in the belief that our past informs our present and that locally sustainable futures (economically, environmentally, and culturally) are only possible if they honor and build on the experiences and strengths of the past, as a way to empower individuals and communities in the present and future.
I am currently collaborating on a National Science Foundation sponsored investigation, which represents the approach I have described above. Our NSF- Partnerships for International Research and Education (PIRE) project is broadly interested in bioenergy development and sustainability in Latin America and involves scholars from multiple academic units at Michigan Tech, along with researchers from 15 universities and institutions from the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina. The growing global demand for sustainably produced bioenergy and biofuels in many ways has reinvigorated the long-standing articulations between agribusiness and consumers in the global north and ecosystem services and human populations in the global south, echoing earlier plantation systems and dependent relationships that have developed during the modern-era. As the Socioeconomic sub-team leader and Mexico case study lead, the five year NSF grant includes my development of a research project in Yucatán utilizing archaeological research (framed in a community archaeology approach), along with ethnohistorical, ethnographic, and participatory action research methodologies in direct partnership with local communities to evaluate issues of sustainability related to land tenure, labor rights, water rights, and the security of local food systems from an evolutionary historical perspective, as part of a larger program to understand the complex social issues related to proposed and ongoing sustainable bioenergy initiatives in the region.
More widely, my research interests revolve around two broad and interrelated lines of inquiry that guide a larger unified program of research focused on the development and spread of global articulations in the modern-era. The first area of inquiry examines the archaeological and historical record to reveal how the local is articulated with larger global processes associated with the rise of a capitalist world-economy. My research examining this historical perspective has incorporated archaeological, ethnohistorical, and documentary evidence to examine how particular sites represent the increasing interconnections between people and places within a globalizing world. This approach is best represented in my recently published book, On the Periphery of the Periphery: Household Archaeology at Hacienda San Juan Bautista Tabi, Yucatán, México, which examines archaeological and historical evidence related to the rise of the hacienda system in Yucatán as part of international commodity chains and the institution’s impact on the socioeconomic lives of Mayan laborers.
The second, integrated area of inquiry examines past social formations as a way of informing contemporary debates regarding present and future social issues. My research in this area incorporates the use of ethnography, action research, and critical social theory in order to examine topics related particularly to contemporary industrial communities, including the construction and negotiation of working-class identities, industrial heritage, and place, as well as issues related to cultural, economic, and environmental sustainability in both evolving industrial landscapes, as well as post-industrial landscapes. This perspective is at the heart of the Central Aguirre Research Project I am currently directing in Puerto Rico and part of the NSF project I am developing in Yucatán. As I briefly mentioned above, this Yucatán project will utilize anthropological and archaeological methodologies in direct partnership with local communities to evaluate the impact of renewed agro-industrial production and issues of local sustainability contextualized within the long-term historical circumstances that have shaped local social systems and stakeholder perceptions related to key socio-economic issues related to the environment and land-use. This work will incorporate and extend the archaeological and historical research I previously conducted at Hacienda Tabi, Yucatán related to the development of inequalities and exploitation engender by the articulation of local communities within global networks.
As a scholar I have balanced my personal research interests with collaborative efforts dedicated to programmatic growth and the strengthening of existing research programs within the Department of Social Sciences, as well as across academic units at Michigan Tech and among our international partners (e.g. NSF-PIRE and NSF-RCN funded Pan American bioenergy sustainability research). As a result I have coordinated my research interests and activities between departmental projects, such as the West Point Foundry Project in Cold Spring, New York and our local Cliff Mine Project here in the Keweenaw (both projects having significant public archaeology components), with research related to my area expertise in Latino cultures of Latin America and the Caribbean, particularly in Yucatán, Mexico and in Puerto Rico.
- Historical and Industrial Archaeology
- Social, Economic, and Political Dimensions of Haciendas, Plantations, and Industrial Communities in the American West, Latin America, and the Caribbean
- Issues Related to Colonialism, World-Systems Analysis, post-Colonialism, and Globalization
- Relevance of Archaeology and Heritage to Identity Formation and Contemporary Social Systems
- 2018 Eastmond, Amarella, Julio Sacramento, Sam Sweitz (eds.) The Quest for Jatropha Biodiesel and Sustainability in Yucatan. Ediciones de la Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán, Merida, Mexico.
- 2012 Sweitz, Sam. On the Periphery of the Periphery: Household Archaeology at Hacienda San Juan Bautista Tabi, Yucatán, Mexico. Contributions to Global Historical Archaeology series, Charles Orser, Jr. editor, Springer, New York.
- 2004 Waters, Michael, Mark Long, William Dickens, Sam Sweitz, Anna Lee Presley, Ian Buvit, Michelle Raisor, Bryan Mason, Hillary Standish, and Norbert Dannhaeuser. Lone Star Stalag: German Prisoners of War at Camp at Hearne. Texas A&M University Press, College Station, Texas.
- 2017 Banerjee, Aparajita, Kathy Halvorsen, Amarella Eastmond, Sam Sweitz. Sustainable development for whom and how? Exploring the gaps between popular discourses and ground reality using the Mexican Jatropha biodiesel case. Environmental Management. 59(6):912-923.
- 2015 T. Selfa, C. Bain, R. Moreno, A. Eastmond, S. Sweitz, C. Bailey, T. Martins, G. Simas Pereira, R. Medeiros. Interrogating Social Sustainability in the Biofuels Sector in Latin America: Global Standards and Local Experiences in Mexico, Brazil and Colombia. Environmental Management. 56(6):1315-1329.
- 2012 Sweitz, Sam. Consumer Strategy and Household Consumption in the Cripple Creek Mining District, Colorado, USA. International Journal of Historical Archaeology 16(1):227-266.
- 2010 Sweitz, Sam. A Multidisciplinary Approach to Investigating the Industrial Heritage of Puerto Rico: Research at the National Register Site of Central Aguirre. CRM: The Journal of Heritage Stewardship 7:87-91.
- 2010 Sweitz, Sam. The Production and Negotiation of Working Class Space and Place at Central Aguirre, Puerto Rico. IA: The Journal of the Society for Industrial Archaeology 36(1):24-46.
- 2018 Sweitz, Sam. Introduction: Sustainable Biofuels: The Local in the Global. In The Quest for Jatropha Biodiesel and Sustainability in Yucatan, A. Eastmond, J. Sacramento, and S. Sweitz, editors, Ediciones de la Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán, Merida, Mexico, pp. 23-27.
- 2018 Sweitz, Sam. Conclusion: Sustainability, Biofuels, and the Future in Yucatan. In The Quest for Jatropha Biodiesel and Sustainability in Yucatan, A. Eastmond, J. Sacramento, and S. Sweitz, editors, Ediciones de la Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán, Merida, Mexico, pp. 239-245.
- 2015 Sweitz, Sam. Las Cadenas que más nos Encadenan son las Cadenas que Hemos Roto: Plantation Systems, Capitalist Mentalities, and the Production of Space, Place, and Identity in Historical Archaeology. In Historical Archaeologies of Capitalism, second edition, M. Leone and J. Knauf, editors, Springer, pp. 295-326.
- 2015 Sweitz, Sam. Collective Memory, Working-Class Identity, and the Reanimation of Community in the (Post-) Industrial Sugar Landscape of Central Aguirre, Puerto Rico. In Reanimating Industrial Spaces: Conducting Memory Work in Post-Industrial Societies, H. Orange, editor, Left Coast Press, pp. 176-190.
- 2011 Scarlett, Timothy J., and Sweitz, Sam. Constructing New Knowledge in Industrial Archaeology. In Archaeological Field Schools: Constructing Knowledge and Experience, H. Mytum, editor, pp. 119-146. Springer, New York.
- 2016 Cooperative Agreement for Work with Pullman National Monument. United States Department of the Interior. Co-PI with Laura Rouleau, Tim Scarlett, LouAnn Wurst, Steve Walton, Sarah Scarlett, and Donald Lafreniere, $149,564.00 (Funded)
- 2013 Public Archaeology at the Cliff Mine. Sponsor: Keweenaw National Historic Park Advisory Commission. Co-PI with Tim Scarlett Fred Quivik, $43,779 (Funded)
- 2012 Central Aguirre Project, College of Sciences & Arts / Department of Social Sciences, Michigan Technological University, $8,000.00 (Funded)
- 2012 Public Archaeology at the Cliff Mine Site. Keweenaw National Historic Park Advisory Commission. Co-PIs Timothy Scarlett and Fred Quivik, $40,204 (Funded)
- 2012 Specimens for the Experiential Learning of Hominin Evolution, Mini Grant for Instructional Improvement and Innovation, Center for Teaching, Learning, and Faculty Development, MTU, matching funds from Department of Social Sciences, MTU, $1,300.00 (Funded)
- 2012 NSF-PIRE (Partnerships for International Research and Education): Sustainability, Ecosystem Services, and Bioenergy Development across the Americas. Co-Principal Investigator, $5,000,000.00 (Funded)
- 2011 NSF RCN-SEES (Science, Engineering, and Education for Sustainability): A Research Coordination Network on Biofuels and Bioenergy Sustainability, National Science Foundation. Co-PI with David Shonnard, Barry Solomon, Kathleen Halvorsen, and Rick Donovan, $749,996.00 (Funded)
- 2011 Survey and Evaluation of Stamp Sands, Poor Rock, and Slag Piles in Houghton, Keweenaw, Ontonagon, and Baraga Counties, Keweenaw National Historical Park. Co-PI with Tim Scarlett, Fred Quivik, Louise Nelson Dyble, and Susan Martin, $9,900.00 (Funded)
- 2011 The Story of Copper: Archaeological and Architectural Cultural Resource Surveys in Isle Royale National Park and Keweenaw National Historical Park,
Great Lakes Research and Education Center (GLREC), National Park Service. Co-PI with Tim Scarlett, Pat Martin, Susan Martin, and Fred Quivik, $6,000.00 (Funded)
- 2011 Public Archaeology at the Cliff Mine Site, Keweenaw National Historic Park. Co-PI with Tim Scarlett and Fred Quivik, $23,000.00 (Funded)
- 2010 Caribbean Industrial Heritage and Archaeological Research Program, Research Excellence Fund – Scholarship and Creativity Grant, MTU, $10,370.00 (Funded)
- 2010 Public Archaeology at the Cliff Mine Site, Keweenaw National Historical Park. Co-PI with Timothy Scarlett and Pat Martin, $19,114.00 (Funded)
- 2010 Phase I & II Cultural Resource Survey of the Cliff Mine Site, United States Environmental Protection Agency and Keweenaw Conservation District. Co-PI with Timothy Scarlett, Pat Martin, and Susan Martin, $26,304.00 (Funded)
- 2008 Specimens for the Experiential Learning of Hominid Evolution, Mini Grant for Instructional Improvement and Innovation, Center for Teaching, Learning, and Faculty Development, MTU, $500.00 (Funded)
- 2008 Archaeology at the West Point Foundry 2008-2009, Scenic Hudson Land Trust. Co-PI with Pat Martin, Susan Martin, and Timothy Scarlett, $91,906.14 (Funded)
- 2007 Archaeology at the West Point Foundry 2007-2008, Scenic Hudson Land Trust. Co-PI with Pat Martin, Susan Martin, and Timothy Scarlett, $171,342.00 (Funded)
- 2018 Interrogating Legacies of Industry: Industrial Ruins and the Creative Destruction of Capitalism. Paper presented at the 51st annual Society for Historical Archaeology Conference on Historical and Underwater Archaeology, New Orleans, LA, January 3-6.
- 2016 Aparajita Banerjee and Sam Sweitz. Jatropha Based Biodiesel Production in Yucatan, Mexico and Woody Biomass Production in Wisconsin, USA: A Comparison of Public Policy Roles in Bioenergy Development. Paper presented at the International Symposium for Society and Resource Management, Houghton, MI, June 22-26.
- 2016 Aparajita Banerjee, Amarella Eastmond, and Sam Sweitz. Global Projects and Local Impacts: From Henequen to Jatropha for Biofuels in Yucatan, Mexico. Paper presented at the International Symposium for Society and Resource Management, Houghton, MI, June 22-26.
- 2015 Las Cadenas que más nos Encadenan son las Cadenas que Hemos Roto: The Yucatecan Hacienda, Capitalist Mentalities, and the Production of Space and Identity. Paper presented at the 48th annual Society for Historical Archaeology Conference on Historical and Underwater Archaeology, Seattle, WA, January 7-11.
- 2015 PIRE Socioeconomic Research in Tabasco, Mexico. NSF-PIRE: Sustainability, Ecosystem Services, and Bioenergy Development across the Americas Conference, Houghton, MI, June 1.
- 2015 Erin Pischke, Kathy Halversen Aparajita Banerjee, Jennifer Dunn, Amarella Eastmond, Sam Sweitz, Erik Nielsen, Chelsea Silva, Jesse Abrams, and Cassandra Moseley. Community Perceptions of Mexican and Argentine Bioenergy Projects. Paper presented at the International Symposium on Society and Resource Management, Charleston, SC, June 13-18.
- 2015 Kathy Halvorsen, Aparajita Banerjee, Jeniffer Dunn, Erin Pischke, Chelsea Schelly, Sam Sweitz, Erik Nielsen, Jesse Abrams, Amarella Eastmond, Cassandra Moseley, Chelsea Silva. One Hundred Students and Investigators across Seven Bioenergy Projects, Three Languages, Six Countries, One Thousand Qualitative Interviews, and Five Years: An Overview of our National Science Foundation PIRE Project. International Symposium on Society and Resource Management. Charleston, SC, June 13-18.
- 2015 Invited: Sugar and Social Organization in Yucatan. Paper presented at Caribbean and Atlantic Studies at Texas A&M Conference, College Station, TX, October 22-24.
- 2014 Socioeconomic Sustainability Dimensions of Biofuels in the Americas. NSF-RCN Conference on Pan American Biofuels and Bioenergy Sustainability, Recife, Brazil, July 25.
- 2014 Amarella Eastmond and Sam Sweitz. Global and Local Perspectives on the Jatropha Plantations for Biodiesel in Sucopo, Yucatan Mexico. Paper Presented at the NSF RCN Conference on Pan American Biofuels and Bioenergy Sustainability, Recife, Brazil, July 23.
- 2014 Javier Becerril, Amarella Eastmond, and Sam Sweitz. Agro-Fuels and Income of Rural Households in Yucatan, Mexico. Paper Presented at the NSF RCN Conference on Pan American Biofuels and Bioenergy Sustainability, Recife, Brazil, July 23.
- 2014 Theresa Selfa, Carmen Bain, Riata Moreno, Amarella Eastmond, Sam Sweitz, Connor Bailey, Tatiana Martins, Gustavo Simas Pereira, Rodrigo Medeiros. Dimensiones Socioeconómicas y Sostenibilidad de los Combustibles en las Américas: Ejemplos de EEUU, Colombia, Mexico y Brasil. Paper presented at Departamento de Ciencias Sociales, Faculdad de Agronomía, Universidad de la República, Montevideo, Uruguay, June 2.
- 2014 Theresa Selfa, Carmen Bain, Riata Moreno, Amarella Eastmond, Sam Sweitz, Connor Bailey, Tatiana Martins, Gustavo Simas Pereira, Rodrigo Medeiros. Interrogating Social Sustainability in the Biofuels Sector in Latin America: Global Standards and Local Experiences in Mexico, Brazil and Colombia. Paper presented at the Agriculture and Human Values Society meeting, Burlington, Vermont, June 19-21.
- 2013 A Framework for Socio-Economic Research in the Americas. Paper Presented at the NSF-PIRE: Sustainability, Ecosystem Services, and Bioenergy Development across the Americas Conference, Buenos Aires, Argentina, May 26-30.
- 2012 Local Stakeholder Perspectives Affecting the Sustainability of Biofuel Initiatives. Poster presented at the NSF RCN Conference on Pan American Biofuels and Bioenergy Sustainability, Merida, Mexico, May 28-30.
- 2011 Producing Working Class Identity in the Space of Sugar Production: Corporate Power and Community Negotiation at Central Aguirre, Puerto Rico. Paper presented at the 44th annual Society for Historical Archaeology Conference on Historical and Underwater Archaeology, Austin, TX, January 5-9.
- 2010 Anna Lee Sweitz and Sam Sweitz. Invited session: Animals, and their Bones, in the Modern World (1750-1950). Bos taurus and 19th-century Consumer Choice Strategies in the Cripple Creek Mining District of Colorado. Paper presented at the 11th International Council for Archaeozoology Conference, Paris, France, August 23-28.
- 2009 Invited session: Diversity and Complexity in Trade Relations. Trade and Conflict in Plantation Systems: Perspectives on the Global in the Local. Paper presented at the 42nd annual Society for Historical Archaeology Conference on Historical and Underwater Archaeology, Toronto, Canada, January 7-12.
- 2008 Invited session: Plantation Archaeology: Expanding Perspectives. Plantation Systems as Capitalist Systems: Perspectives on an Interpretive Framework. Paper presented at the 41st annual Society for Historical Archaeology Conference on Historical and Underwater Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM, January 8-13.
- 2007 The Industrial Heritage of Puerto Rico: Including a Discussion of Some Unique West Point Foundry Machinery. Paper presented at the Society for Industrial Archaeology National Meeting, Philadelphia, PA, July 8-9.
- 2006 On the Periphery of the Periphery: Household Archaeology at Hacienda Tabi, Yucatan, Mexico. Paper presented at the 71st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Juan, Puerto Rico, April 26-30.
- 2006 Timothy J. Scarlett, Sam Sweitz, and Anna Lee Sweitz. Blast Furnace Picnic: The West Point Foundry and the Hudson River Grand Tour. Paper presented at the Council for Northeast Historical Archaeology Conference, Tarrytown, NY, October 21.
- 2005 The Golden Crescent: Industry and Community in the Historic Cripple Creek Mining District. Paper presented at the 38th annual Society for Historical Archaeology Conference on Historical and Underwater Archeology, York, England, January 5-10.
- 2001 Invited Session: Household Chores: The Struggle to Define and Determine the Household in Historical Archaeology. Household Organization and Status at Hacienda Tabi, Yucatan. Paper presented at the 34th annual Society for Historical Archaeology Conference on Historical and Underwater Archaeology, Long Beach, CA, January 10-14.
- 2000 Sam Sweitz and David Carlson. Archaeological Investigations at Hacienda Tabi, Yucatan, Mexico: The Maya and Sugar Production in Yucatan. Paper presented at the 65th annual Society for American Archaeology Meeting, Philadelphia, PA, April 5-9.
Selected Research Projects:
- 04/06 – Present Central Aguirre Research Project; Director, Caribbean Industrial Heritage and Archaeology Research Program, Department of Social Sciences, Michigan Technological University.
- 05/10 – Present Cliff Mine Archaeological Project; Co-Director, Department of Social Sciences, Michigan Technological University.
- 10/12 – 10/18 National Science Foundation-OISE PIRE: Sustainability, Ecosystem Services, and Bioenergy Development across the Americas;Socioeconomic Sub-team Lead, Mexico Country Lead Michigan Technological University & 17 U.S., Argentinean, Brazilian, Canadian, Mexican, and Uruguayan Institutions.
- 09/11 – 09/18 National Science Foundation- RCN SEES: A Research Coordination Network on Biofuels and Bioenergy Sustainability, Michigan Technological University & U.S. and International Partners.
- 05/06 – 07/09 West Point Foundry Project; Faculty Collaborator, Department of Social Sciences, Michigan Technological University
- 05/96 – 08/11 Hacienda Tabi Project, Yucatan, Mexico; Co-Director, Department of Anthropology, Texas A&M University / Michigan Technological University.
- 01/04 – 01/05 Cripple Creek Historic Mining District Archaeology Project; Fellow Office of the State Archaeologist, Colorado Historical Society.
- 05/97 – 07/04 Camp Hearne Project, Hearne, Texas; Research Associate / Surveyor, Department of Anthropology, Texas A&M University.
- SS2100 World Peoples & Environments
- SS2200 Prehistory and Archaeology
- SS3210 Field Archaeology
- SS3200 Archaeology of the Modern World
- SS3225 Capitalism in the Modern World
- SS3260 Latin American Cultural History
- SS4210 Global Change in Culture and Society Since 1400
- SS4220 Method & Theory in Archaeology
- SS4502 Historical Research
- SS4990 Directed Study in Anthropology (Senior Thesis)
- SS5010 Graduate Directed Study
- SS5502 Industrial Archaeology Graduate Seminar: Historical Archaeology
- SS5700 Graduate Archaeological Field Methods
- SS5975 Full Time Master's Research
- SS6010 Graduate Directed Study in Latin American Cultural History
- SS6500 Graduate Directed Reading
- UN1002 World Cultures
- UN1025 Global Issues