Danielle Kurin


Dr. Danielle KurinAs an anthropological bioarchaeologist, my scholarship broadly investigates the bio-cultural impacts of societal collapse and reorganization using multi-method approaches. I hold appointsments and affiliations with the Archaeology Program, the Integrative Anthropological Sciences Unit, and the Latin American and Iberian Studies Program. At UC Santa Barbara, I direct the PL Walker Bioarchaeology and Biogeochemistry Lab (BABL). In the field, I lead cross-disciplinary, international field research program in the south-central highland region of Andahuaylas, Peru. The program operates at a half-dozen sites in the region and has excavated and assessed some 550 archaeological individuals and thousands of associated funerary goods—and more than a dozen students and scholars use that data for their research. This work has been been supported by the National Science Foundation, A Fulbright-Hays and Fulbright IIE fellowship, the Brenan Foundation, and UCSB, among other entities. While my predoctoral scholarship largely focused on the late Wari Era (AD 700-1000) and early Late Intermediate Period (AD 1000-1250), I have investigated contexts which span the Formative Era through the Colonial Period (ca. 200 BC-AD1600); I have also consulted on forensic cases in both the U.S.A. and Peru. 

Methodologically, my research is collaborative and holistic, employing skeletal and mortuary analysis, multi-isotope geochemistry, morphometric and  geospatial data, elemental analyses and archaeometrics in the lab, ethnohistoric research in archives enhanced by my fluency in Spanish, and ethnographic fieldwork—relying on my proficiency in Quechua, to analyze and interpret cultural data in integrated, interdisciplinary ways. Importantly, I have tied my research to educational community service. In Peru, I started a community museum and lab, designed and taught curricula at local universities, and produced workshops, exhibits, and publications geared towards indigenous communities--a means by which Andeans can connect to thier heritage and also learn methods of critical inquiry.

This type of comprehensive approach is exemplified in my recently published Spanish-language co-edited volum on the archaeology and anthropology of the South-Central Andes. My upcoming book, The Bioarchaeology of Societal Collapse and Reorganization in the Ancient Andes, to be published in Springer’s new Bioarchaeology and Social Theory series, focuses on the relationship between ethnogenesis and ethnocide during the early Chanka period of Andean pre-history (AD 1000-1250). As argued in several chapters, published by Cambridge U Press, Springer Press and articles in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology and International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, my data indicates that Wari state collapse spurred the reformulation of local ethnic groups, triggered new migration patterns, sparked deadly, targetted violence, yet also propelled innovative techniques like trepanation (cranial surgery). My next book, The Bioarchaeology of Disaster, under contract with Left Coast Press, will demonstrate the application of bioarchaeological theory and method to a full range of historic and pre-historic natural and man-made calamitites, hazzards, and devastation. 

Crucially, throughout my research, one of my key conclusions has been that human beings have proved remarkably resilient; their bodily remains tell the story of how people have survived profound hardship and how communities and societies have drawn lessons from catastrophic events to regenerate themselves anew.  

My other current research projects and collaborations focus on the bio-cultural impacts of mining and mineral extraction among archaic states, the potentital of aDNA to clarify rules of mortuary colectivity in the ancient Andes, and stable isotope analyses of human and faunal remains from the precontact U.S. Southeast/Midwest.


A.B. Bryn Mawr College, 2005

Ph.D. Vanderbilt University, 2012 

Research Key Words:

  • Social Bioarchaeology; Mortuary Archaeology
  • Biocultural Impacts of Disaster; State collapse; Environmental degredation
  • Warfare; Structural Violence; Social Inequality; Ethnogenesis; Technological Innovation
  • Skeletal Trauma; Paleopathology; Cultural Modification of the Body
  • Ethnohistory; Ethnobioarchaeology; Museology and Heritage Management
  • New World, Latin America, Andes, Peru