UCLA » College » Social Sciences » Anthropology
Faculty

Stephen Acabado


Associate Professor


Contact Information

Email    acabado@anthro.ucla.edu
Office  370 Haines
Phone  310-825-9359

I am an anthropological archaeologist interested in human environment interaction and indigenous response to colonialism. My research focuses on the archaeology of highland agricultural systems in Southeast Asia, specifically on the Ifugao agricultural terraces (northern Philippines). My initial research findings established the recent inception of the Ifugao rice terraces, arguing against the long history model proposed at the beginning of the 20th century by pioneer anthropologists. Rather, the rice terraces are seen as responses to the arrival of the Spanish in the northern Philippine highlands. This work has espoused the idea that the artificial contrasts that we see between highland and lowland populations in the Philippines are products of colonialism and history, rather than differences in ecological adaptation. I have active research programs in indigenous Taiwan, and in Bicol and Ifugao, Philippines.

The foundation of my research is rooted in the responses of indigenous populations to culture-contact and colonialism, particularly on the economic and political transformations that ensued soon after conquest. My work among the Ifugao and their rice terraces, a UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site in the Philippines, evolved into a decolonizing tool as my research findings forced me to rethink of long-held assumptions about indigenous peoples as passive observers in history, and break what I consider as the false dichotomies between the colonizer and the colonized. As the only active research program in Southeast Asia on the archaeology of Iberian colonialism, I juxtapose dominant historical narratives with new archaeological evidence using multiple lines of research that include faunal and archaeobotanical remains, human skeletal biology, ethnohistory and ethnography, spatial modeling, and artifact findings.

In addition to my archaeological research, I am also actively engaged in the ethnographic study of the Ifugao agricultural system as a living cultural landscape. This nuanced understanding of farmer decision-making is necessary for the development of conservation programs in the region.  I argue that government and NGO conservation programs in the region are unsuccessful because they failed to factor in the cultural context of rice agriculture in Ifugao. I contend that changes in the agricultural practices in the region are inevitable since the long-standing agricultural system is not economically viable and local farmers make informed decisions based on economic and political pressures.

More importantly, descendant communities are actively involved in my research projects. I have strived to actively involve community stakeholders in the research program, for them to be as active and involved participants in the research and not just as mere contributors. My efforts have subsequently resulted in increased community interest and the emergence of an indigenous archaeology in the region. Colleagues have described our community engagement in Ifugao as “humanizing” as we attempt to counter the exclusivity often associated with the authority of colonial archaeology.

Degrees

Ph.D., University of Hawai’i (2010)

Grants

2012. National Geographic Society-Committee for Research and Exploration Grant. Ifugao Archaeological Project.

2011. National Parks Service. Cultural Landscape Inventory and Interim Treatment Plan for Asan and Agat Invasion Beaches, Guam.

2011. National Parks Service. Climate Change Vulnerability Assessments on Known Archeological Sites at War in the Pacific National Historical Park (Guam) and American Memorial Park (Saipan)

2011. Archeological Site Condition Assessments and Cave Inventories at War in the Pacific National Historical Park (Guam) and American Memorial Park (Saipan)

2011. GeoEye Foundation Imagery Grant for San Remigio, Cebu Archaeological Project.

2007-2008. Henry Luce Foundation/American Council of Learned Societies Dissertation Fellowship

2007-2008. National Science Foundation Dissertation Improvement Grant: Landscapes and Self-Organizing Systems: The Archaeology of the Ifugao Rice Terraces, Northern Philippines

2001-2006. Asian Cultural Council Fellowship (ACC), ACC New York and ACC Philippines.

Selected Publications

2015 Acabado, S.B. Antiquity, Archaeological Processes, and Highland Adaptation: The Ifugao Rice
Terraces. Manila: Ateneo de Manila University Press. link

(In press - 2014). Rice Pots or Not? Exploring Ancient Ifugao Foodways through Organic Residue Analysis and Palaeobotany. National Museum Cultural Heritage Journal, 1:1 (with M. Eusenbio, J. Ceron, and J. Krigbaum)

(In press - 2014). Community Participation in the Ifugao Archaeological Project. National Museum Cultural Heritage Journal, 1:1 (with M. Martin).

(In press - 2014). Infant Death and Burial Practices in Late Prehistoric Kiyyangan Village, Kiangan, Ifugao. National Museum Cultural Heritage Journal, 1:1 (with A. Lauer).

(In press - 2014). Did the Little Ice Age contribute to the emergence of rice terrace farming in Ifugao, Philippines? National Museum Cultural Heritage Journal, 1:1 (with J.A. Peterson).

(In press - 2014). Defining Ifugao Social Organization: “House”, Field, and Self-Organizing Principles in the Northern Philippines. Asian Perspectives 52(2).

2012. The Ifugao Agricultural Landscapes: Complementary Systems and the Intensification Debate. Journal Of Southeast Asian Studies 43(3): 500-522.

2012. Taro Before Rice Terraces: Implications of Radiocarbon Determinations, Ethnohistoric Reconstructions, and Ethnography in Dating the Ifugao Terraces. In M. Spriggs, D. Addison, And P.J. Matthews (Eds), Irrigated Taro (Colocassia Esculenta) in the Indo-Pacific: Biological And Historical Perspectives. Senri Ethnological Studies. Vol (N.D.). National Museum of Ethnology: Osaka.

2010. Landscapes and the Archaeology of the Ifugao Agricultural Terraces: Establishing  Antiquity and Social Organisation. Hukay: Journal for Archaeological Research in Asia and the Pacific, 15: 31-61.

2009. A Bayesian Approach to Dating Agricultural Terraces: A Case from the Philippines. Antiquity 83(2009): 801-814.

 

 

 

 

Fields of Study

Archaeology

Research

Historical ecology, landscape archaeology, agricultural systems, settlement patterns, emergent complexity, indigenous peoples; Southeast Asia, Philippines, Guam, Micronesia

Current Courses by Term

2019 Fall Quarter

Fiat Lux Freshman Seminars

Selected Topics in Archaeology of Southeast Asia

Individual Studies in Anthropology

Teaching Apprentice Practicum

Previous Courses by Term

2019 Spring Quarter

Selected Laboratory Topics in Archaeology

Selected Topics in Archaeology

2019 Winter Quarter

Fiat Lux Freshman Seminars

Selected Topics in Archaeology of Southeast Asia

2018 Fall Quarter

Fiat Lux Freshman Seminars

Selected Topics in Anthropological/Archaeological Theory

2018 Spring Quarter

Selected Laboratory Topics in Archaeology

2018 Winter Quarter

Selected Topics in Archaeology of Southeast Asia

2017 Fall Quarter

Archaeology: Introduction

2017 Spring Quarter

Archaeology: Introduction

2017 Winter Quarter

Selected Laboratory Topics in Archaeology

2016 Fall Quarter

Selected Topics in Archaeology

2016 Spring Quarter

Individual Studies in Anthropology

Topics in Asian Archaeology

Variable Topics in Asian American Studies

2016 Winter Quarter

Selected Topics in Archaeology

2015 Fall Quarter

Archaeology: Introduction

2015 Spring Quarter

Selected Topics in Regional Cultures

2015 Winter Quarter

Selected Topics in Archaeology

2014 Fall Quarter

Archaeology: Introduction

2014 Spring Quarter

Selected Topics in Archaeology

2014 Winter Quarter

Selected Topics in Anthropological/Archaeological Theory

Previous Courses by Course

ANTHRO 119
Selected Topics in Archaeology

2019 Spring Quarter

ANTHRO 117P
Selected Laboratory Topics in Archaeology

2019 Spring Quarter

2017 Winter Quarter

ANTHRO 116S
Selected Topics in Archaeology of Southeast Asia

2019 Winter Quarter

2018 Winter Quarter

ANTHRO 19
Fiat Lux Freshman Seminars

2019 Winter Quarter

2018 Fall Quarter

ANTHRO 219
Selected Topics in Anthropological/Archaeological Theory

2018 Fall Quarter

ANTHRO C117
Selected Laboratory Topics in Archaeology

2018 Spring Quarter

ARCHEOL M205A
Selected Laboratory Topics in Archaeology

2018 Spring Quarter

2017 Winter Quarter

ANTHRO CM217
Selected Laboratory Topics in Archaeology

2018 Spring Quarter

ANTHRO 2
Archaeology: Introduction

2017 Fall Quarter

ANTHRO 8
Archaeology: Introduction

2017 Spring Quarter

2015 Fall Quarter

2014 Fall Quarter

ANTHRO M212S
Selected Laboratory Topics in Archaeology

2017 Winter Quarter

ANTHRO 118
Selected Topics in Archaeology

2016 Fall Quarter

2016 Winter Quarter

2015 Winter Quarter

2014 Spring Quarter

ANTHRO 197
Individual Studies in Anthropology

2016 Spring Quarter

ANTHRO M216
Topics in Asian Archaeology

2016 Spring Quarter

ASIA AM 97
Variable Topics in Asian American Studies

2016 Spring Quarter

ANTHRO 179
Selected Topics in Regional Cultures

2015 Spring Quarter

ANTHRO 285P
Selected Topics in Anthropological/Archaeological Theory

2014 Winter Quarter