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  • Research Orientation

  • My research in archaeology and urban anthropology is dedicated to understanding how human culture shapes, and is shaped by, the material world in which we live. It is informed by a broad range of historical sciences and humanities disciplines.  In so doing I’ve focused on political economy: the various and complex ways that humans produce and distribute social labor in specific historical circumstances, and negotiate the cultural conditions that sustain such relationships.  This approach has made some distinctive contributions to historical knowledge. I believe it also best capitalizes on arcaheology's potential to foster critical thought about the present, and best fulfils anthropology's ambition to engage groups--indigenous peoples, the working poor, and other citizens--who traditionally have had little interest in the field. That is, it offers an integrative vision of anthropology as both an explanatory and emancipatory enterprise.

  • The Archaeology of Collective Action (2007)

  • The Archaeology of Collective Action
  • Archaeology Magazine Blurb (July/August 2007)
  • Chronicle of Higher Education Notice (July 2007)

  • Review in The History of Archaeology Bulletin (2007)

  • Review in Choice

  • Letter to Choice (6/16/2008)

  • Review in American Antiquity (January 2008)

  • Review in Plains Anthropologist (May 2008)

  • Review in Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (June 2008)

  • Review in Southeastern Archaeology (Summer 2008)

  • Review in Labor Studies (September 2008)

  • Review in American Anthropologist (September 2008)

  • Review in Historical Archaeology (Fall 2008)

  • Review in Dissent (Spring 2009)

  • Review in Labor History (2009)

  • Review in Cambridge Archaeological Journal (2010)

  • Review in Transforming Anthropology (2010)

  • Review in Reviews in Anthropology (2015)

  • Archaeology of Collective Action
    Archaeology of  Collective Action
  • "Saitta’s book is archaeological writing at its best: fluent but air-tight, constructed with an almost architectural logic, and unashamedly opinionated.  Were I attempting to explain to students how and why Historical Archaeology, of all archaeologies, is a political project, and why Archaeology is only ever as good as the quality of the writing, I would direct them to this work."

    -Tadhg O'Keeffe, Cambridge Archaeological Journal

  • Colorado Coal Field War Archaeological Project

  • I Co-Direct this Project with my colleagues Phil Duke (now retired) of Fort Lewis College and Randy McGuire of the University of Binghamton.  The project was funded between 1997-2004 with grants from the Colorado Historical Society totaling $880,000. Other grants were provided by the University of Denver and the University of Binghamton. 


  • Project Website

  • Review of Project Website in American Anthropologist (2013)

  • Project Digital Atlas
  • Teach Ludlow: Online Teaching Tool

  • DU Magazine Feature (Winter 2003)

  • Society for American Archaeology Magazine Feature (March 2002)

  • Denver Post Feature (8/30/1998)

  • Collected Essays By Project Participants (2009)
    Collected Essays By Project Participants (2009)
  • The Archaeology of Class War

  • Review in Plains Anthropologist (2010)

  • Review in Labor History (2013)

  • From the Vault

  • Agency and Change in Middle-Range Societies (1999)

  • Linking Political Economy and Human Biology (1998)

  • Dialectics, Heterarchy, and Western Pueblo Social Organization (1998)

  • Dynamics of Change in Chacoan Political Economy (1997)

  • Although they Have Petty Captains, They Obey Them Badly (1996)

  • Agency, Class, and Archaeological Interpretation (1994)

  • Radical Archaeology and Middle-Range Methodology (1992)

  • Radical Theory and the Processual Critique (1991)

  • Politics and Surplus Flow in Communal Societies (1990)

  • Dialectics, Critical Inquiry, and Archaeology (1989)

  • The Poverty of Philosophy in Archaeology (1983)

  • On the Evolution of "Tribal" Social Networks (1982)

  • Archaeology in Zuni Land

  • My research in the Zuni-El Morro area of west-central New Mexico is concerned with political and economic change in local indigenous cultures following the so-called "collapse" of the great Ancestral Puebloan cultural center at Chaco Canyon (AD 1150-1250).  Our work disaggregates the organizational variables traditionally held to typify and differentiate ancient societies, rethinks the meaning of some conventional archaeol ogical artifact categories, and conceptualizes material culture (especially architecture and settlement plan) as active agents of ideological and social change.  My studies were the first published analyses of university field school data collected from Togeye Canyon in the 1970s.  This collection, curated at DU, has been studied by our students as well as other Southwestern scholars.  Analyzed material is also finding its way into a small public history museum in Ramah, NM.   This applied contribution to the public good of a small New Mexican community is perhaps the most important legacy of the Zuni Land research.

  • Pettit Site, Togeye Canyon, NM
    Pettit Site, Togeye Canyon, NM
  • Major Zuni Land Publications

  • Class and Community in the Ancient Southwest (1994)

  • Political Economy and Ideology of Population Aggregation in Togeye Canyon (1994)

  • Community Organization at the Pettit Site (1991)

  • Urban Anthropology

  • Planning Sustainability: The Evolution of Green Urbanism (2016)

  • Sustainable Urban Development in the American West (2016)

  • Intercultural Placemaking (2015)

    In: Contours of The City: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the Study of the Urban Space, edited by Fabio Liberti, pp. 117-129. La Mandragora, Imola, Italy.

  • Blogging The City (2015)

  • Conference Report: The Society for American City and Regional Planning History (2014)

  • Planetizen Essays

  • These essays were written exclusively for the public interest urban planning website Planetizen.


  • Denver: An Archaeological History (2007, 2001)

  • Paperback, 2007
    Paperback, 2007
  • Other Publications

  • Pragmatism in Archaeological Theory (2014)

    In Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology, edited by Claire Smith. Springer.

  • Agency and Collective Action (2013)

  • Archaeology and the Public (2009)

  • On "Agency" in Archaeology (2008)

    Comment on “Past Practices: Rethinking Individuals and Agents in Archaeology”, by  A. Bernard Knapp and Peter van Dommelen. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 18:25-26.

  • Ethics, Objectivity, and Emancipatory Archaeology (2008)

  • Higher Education and the Dangerous Professor (2006)

  • Battlefields of Class Conflict (2005)

  • Marxism, Tribal Society, and the Dual Nature of Archaeology (2005)

  • Dialoguing With the Ghost of Marx (2005)

  • Labor and Class in the American West (2005)

  • Desecration at Ludlow (2004)

  • Stephen Jay Gould: In Memoriam (2003)

    This is the introduction to a collection of papers honoring Stephen Jay Gould that I solicited and edited for a special issue of Rethinking Marxism. Contributors come from across the humanities and sciences and include: Val Dusek, "Steve Gould: Marxist as Biologist" Ruth Hubbard, "The Mismeasure of the Gene" Stuart Newman, "Nature, Progress, and Stephen Jay Gould's Biopolitics" Ullica Segerstrale, "Stephen Jay Gould: Intuitive Marxist and Biologist of Freedom" Michael Shermer, "Rethinking Stephen Jay Gould: Science and Politics in Evolutionary Theory" Daniel White, "Gould, Nietzsche, Marx: Toward an Ecology of Power"
  • Archaeology and the Problems of Men (2003)

  • Integrating Western and Indigenous Knowledge (2003)

  • Teaching the Craft of Archaeology (2002)

  • Theorizing the Political Economy of Southwest Exchange (2000)

  • Book Reviews

  • Modes of Production and Archaeology (2019)

  • Surplus: The Politics of Production and the Strategies of Everyday Life (2016)

  • Transforming Archaeology (2015)

  • Saving Academic Freedom (2010)

  • Archaeology: The Conceptual Challenge (2008)

  • Zuni Land Photo Gallery

  • Students Excavating at the Pettit Site
    Students Excavating at the Pettit Site
  • Ceramics from the Pettit Site
    Ceramics from the Pettit Site
  • Archaeological Mapping, Togeye Canyon
    Archaeological Mapping, Togeye Canyon
  • Ramah Museum
    Ramah Museum
  • Ramah Museum
    Ramah Museum

This portfolio last updated: 05-Sep-2023 8:29 AM