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Amy Hirshman, Ph.D.

Associate Professor - Anthropology


Dr. Amy Hirshman (Ph.D. Michigan State University) specializes in the ancient western Mesoamerican Tarascan state (AD 1350-1525). She has been published in several peer-reviewed, academic journals, including Ancient Mesoamerica, Ethnoarchaeology, Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, and Journal of Archaeological Science. Dr. Hirshman’s work has also been included in a number of edited volumes. Her broad interests in social complexity, material culture and political economy have been brought to bear on many multi-method research projects on the emergence of the Tarascan state and the interrelationship between states, households, and craft production. Her current research projects include contextualizing the contemporary ethnographic record of regional potters to better understand the organization of ceramic production in the archaeological record from the Lake Pátzcuaro Basin, Michoacán, México, the Tarascan state core. She is also conducting petrographic analysis of ceramics and ceramic resources from several sites within the basin in order to understand the complex nature of the long-lived and diverse ceramic paste recipes found in both pre-state and state contexts. Dr. Hirshman currently teaches courses on Mesoamerica, ancient states, physical anthropology and material culture.  She has been instrumental to the development of the standalone major in anthropology at WVU.  In addition to the research publications mentioned above, she has also published on pedagogy in Strategies in Teaching Anthropology. She is moreover a Faculty Associate of Latin American Studies at West Virginia University. 

Selected Publications

Hirshman, Amy J. 2017. Documenting Accommodation and Change in the Tarascan Ceramic Economy. In Innovative Approaches and Exploration in Ceramic Case Studies, edited by Sandra L. López Varela, pp. 41-52. Archaeopress Archaeology, Oxford, UK.

Hirshman, Amy J. and David Haskell. 2016. “Evaluating Contrasting Models of Ceramic Production in the Tarascan State:  Negotiations in Clay.”  In Cultural Dynamics and Production Activities in Ancient Western Mexico, edited by Eduardo Williams and Blanca Maldonado, pp. 201-214. British Archaeological Reports International Series, Oxford, UK.   
Hirshman, Amy J. 2015. “Valor, Skill, and Resistance”:  Tarascan Opposition to Aztec Ambitions.  General Anthropology 22 (2):1-5. DOI: 10.1111/gena.12001.
Hirshman, Amy J. and Christopher J. Stawski. 2013. “Distribution, Transportation, and the Persistence of Household Ceramic Production in the Tarascan State.”  Ethnoarchaeology 5 (1):1-23.  Doi:  10.1179/1944289013Z.0000000002
Hirshman, Amy J. and Jeffry R. Ferguson. 2012. “Temper mixture models and assessing ceramic complexity in the emerging Tarascan state.”  Journal of Archaeological Sciences 39 (10):3195-3207.  Doi:10.1016/j.jas.2012.05.003

Courses Taught 

  • SOCA 105 Introduction to Anthropology
  • SOCA 250 Archaeology Laboratory (regular and honors sections)
  • SOCA 252 Physical Anthropology
  • SOCA 254 Cultural Anthropology
  • SOCA 258 Introduction to Archaeology
  • SOCA 354 Mesoamerican Archaeology
  • SOCA 359 World Prehistory
  • SOCA 389 Writing in Sociology/Anthropology
  • SOCA 450 Archaeology of Ancient States
  • SOCA 488 The Capstone Experience
  • SOCA 490 Teaching Practicum
  • SOCA 491 Professional Field Experience
  • SOCA 493M Anthropology of Material Culture
  • SOCA 495 Independent Study