Research interests: Social organization of complex societies, social change, colonialism, archaeology and ethnohistory of eastern North America, Andes
Robin Beck is an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology and assistant curator of North American Archaeology in the Museum of Anthropology. His research interests include the archaeology and ethnohistory of complex societies in eastern North America and the Andes of Bolivia and Peru, early colonial encounters in what is now the southern United States, and the broader issues related to social organization and change.
Rob received his Ph.D in Anthropology from Northwestern University in 2004. For his dissertation work, he excavated a Middle Formative (800–400 BC) ritual platform at the site of Alto Pukara, located in Bolivia's Lake Titicaca Basin at an altitude of 3800 m. His research at Alto Pukara used Lévi-Strauss’ concept of the social house to understand transformations in public space during the Formative Period. Since 2001, concurrent with his Andean work, Rob has co-directed the Exploring Joara Project, which focuses on the archaeology and early colonial history of Native American societies in the North Carolina Piedmont. Rob and his collegues have directed NSF-supported research along the Catawba River at the Berry site, location of the native town of Joara and the Spanish garrison Fort San Juan, built by the Juan Pardo expedition in 1567. Manned by thirty soldiers for eighteen months, this fort is the earliest European settlement in the interior of what is now the United States. Its excavation is shedding new light on the process and practice of colonialism near the very beginning of the colonial era.
2009 Catawba Coalescence and the Shattering of the Carolina Piedmont, 1540–1675. In Mapping the Mississippian Shatter Zone: The Colonial Indian Slave Trade and Regional Instability in the American South, ed. by Robbie Ethridge and Sheri Shuck-Hall, pp. 115–41. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln.
2007 Eventful Archaeology: The Place of Space in Structural Transformation, by Robin A. Beck, Jr., Douglas J. Bolender, James A. Brown, and Timothy K. Earle. Current Anthropology 48(6):833–60.
2007 The Durable House: House Society Models in Archaeology, ed. by Robin A. Beck, Jr. Occasional Paper No. 35, Center for Archaeological Investigations, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale.
2004 Architecture and Polity in the Formative Lake Titicaca Basin, Bolivia. Latin American Antiquity 15(3):323–43.
2003 Consolidation and Hierarchy: Chiefdom Variability in the Mississippian Southeast. American Antiquity 68(4):641–61.