Paul K. Eiss

Associate Professor
Ph.D.: University of Michigan, 2000
Department Member Since: 2000


Paul K. Eiss is an associate professor of anthropology and history in Carnegie Mellon’s Department of History. He has conducted extensive archival and ethnographic research in Mexico, focused principally on Maya-speaking areas of western Yucatán. In publications based on that research, such as In the Name of El Pueblo: Place, Community and the Politics of History in Yucatán (Duke, 2010), he has explored diverse topics, such as: land and labor, value, and commodities; education, revolution and state formation; indigeneity, mestizaje and the politics of translation; and the construction of archives and the workings of historical memory. Eiss has edited three collections of articles that place such issues into comparative perspective: most recently Mestizo Acts: The Politics and Performance of Mestizaje in Guatemala, Mexico, Bolivia, Peru and Colombia (Latin American and Caribbean Ethnic Studies, 2016).

Paul Eiss is currently pursuing three research projects. One is a study of mestizaje and performance in Yucatán—and particularly in Yucatecan teatro regional—from the early 19th century to the present. Another is a study of redemption and the politics of translation in revolutionary and postrevolutionary Yucatán. A third study—more contemporary in focus, and largely media-based—concerns practices and rhetorics of collective violence and collective self-defense in Mexico.

For more information see:

selected Publications

In the Name of El Pueblo: Place, Community and the Politics of History in Yucatán (Durham: Duke University Press, 2010). Conference on Latin American History Mexican History Book Prize, Latin American Studies Association (Mexico Section) Best Book in the Social Sciences Prize
Edited Collections
Mestizo Acts: The Politics and Performance of Mestizaje in Guatemala, Mexico, Bolivia, Peru and Colombia. Editor of theme issue of Latin American and Caribbean Ethnic Studies 11:3 (Fall 2016).
Constructing the Maya: Ethnicity, State Formation and Material Culture in Yucatán, Chiapas and Guatemala. Editor of theme issue of Ethnohistory 55:4 (Fall 2008).
Value in Circulation. Co-editor with David Pedersen of theme issue of Cultural Anthropology 17:3 (August 2002).
Refereed Articles
“Playing Mestizo: Festivity, Language and Theatre in Yucatán.” Latin American and Caribbean Ethnic Studies 11:3 (Fall 2016), 242-265. Latin American Studies Association, Mexico Section, Humanities Essay Award.
“The Narcomedia: A Reader’s Guide." Latin American Perspectives 41:2 (March 2014), 78-98.
“El Pueblo Mestizo: Modernity, Tradition, and Statecraft in Yucatán, 1870–1907.” Ethnohistory 55:4 (Fall 2008), 525-552.
“Beyond the Object: Of Rabbits, Rutabagas, and History.” Anthropological Theory 8:1 (March 2008), 79-97.
“Deconstructing Indians, Reconstructing Patria: Indigenous Education in Yucatán from the Porfiriato to the Mexican Revolution.” Journal of Latin American Anthropology 9:1 (Spring 2004), 119-150.
“The War of the Eggs: Event, Archive and History in Yucatán’s Independent Union Movement, 1990.” Ethnology 42:2 (Spring 2003), 87-108.
“Hunting for the Virgin: Meat, Money and Memory in Tetiz, Yucatán.” Cultural Anthropology 17:3 (August 2002), 291-330. Awarded “Cultural Horizons” prize by the Society for Cultural Anthropology for the best article to appear in Cultural Anthropology in 2002 and 2003.
“Redemption’s Archive: Remembering the Future in a Revolutionary Past.” Comparative Studies in Society and History 44:1 (January 2002), 106-136.
“A Share in the Land: Freedpeople and the Government of Labour in Southern Louisiana, 1862-1865.” Slavery & Abolition 19:1 (April 1998), 46-89.
Book Chapters
“Las dolencias del pueblo: retóricas y prácticas de autodefensa en México.” In Lucía Álvarez ed., Pueblo, Ciudadanía, y Sociedad Civil: Aportes para un Debate (Mexico City: Centro de Investigaciones Interdisciplinarias en Ciencias y Humanidades, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, forthcoming).
“Beyond Alterity, Beyond Occidentalism: Some Thoughts on the ‘Indigenous Other’ in Mexico.” Epilogue to Paula López Caballero and Ariadna Acevedo-Rodrigo eds., Beyond Alterity: Producing Indigeneity in Modern Mexico (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, forthcoming).
“Front Lines and Back Channels: the Fractal Publics of El Blog del Narco.” In Paul Gillingham, Michael Lettieri, and Benjamin Smith eds., Journalism, Satire and Censorship in Mexico, 1910-2014 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, forthcoming).
“Reflexiones acerca del estudio de ‘El Pueblo,’ y sus dificultades.” In Gustavo Marín and Gabriela Torres Mazuera eds., Antropología e historia en México: las fronteras construídas de un territorio compartido. Revised, expanded and translated version of “Notes on the Difficulty of Studying El Pueblo,” below. (México D.F.: Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social (C.I.E.S.A.S.) and El Colegio de Michoacán, 2016 in press).
“Beyond the Land: Memory, Community and the Meanings of El Pueblo in Yucatán.” In Antonio Escobar Ohmstede and Matthew Butler, eds., Mexico in Transition: New Perspectives on Mexican Agrarian History, 19th and 20th Centuries (México, DF: (CIESAS), 2013), 511-540.
“Notes on the Difficulty of Studying El Pueblo.” In Chandra D. Bhimull, David William Cohen, Fernando Coronil, Edward L. Murphy, Monica E. Patterson, Julie Skurski, and David William Cohen, eds., Anthrohistory: Unsettling Knowledge, Questioning Discipline (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2011), 37-47.
“A Measure of Liberty: The Politics of Labor in Revolutionary Yucatán, 1915-1918.” In Ben Fallaw, Gilbert Joseph, and Edward Terry eds., Peripheral Visions: Politics, Society, and the Challenges of Modernity in Yucatan (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2010), 54-78.
“The Claims of El Pueblo: Possessions, Politics and Histories.” In Elizabeth Ferry and Mandana Limbert eds., Timely Assets: The Politics of Resources and their Temporalities (Santa Fe: School for Advanced Research Press, 2008), 191-214.
“To Write Liberation: Time, History and Hope in Yucatan.” In James F. Brooks, Christopher R. N. DeCorse, and John Walton, eds., Small Worlds: Method, Meaning, and Narrative in Microhistory (Santa Fe: School for Advanced Research Press, 2008), 53-75.
“Redemption’s Archive: Remembering the Future in a Revolutionary Past.” Expanded and revised version of January 2002 above, in Francis Blouin and William Rosenberg eds., Archives, Documentation and Institutions of Social Memory (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press 2006), 301-320.
“A Share in the Land: Freedpeople and the Government of Labour in Southern Louisiana, 1862-1865.” Re-publication of April 1998 above, in Volume 6 of the Louisiana Purchase Bicentennial Series in Louisiana History, Lawrence Powell ed., Reconstructing Louisiana (Lafayette: Center for Louisiana Studies of the University of Louisiana, 2001), 58-95.
Published Commentaries and Comparative Reviews
“Mestizo Acts.” Latin American and Caribbean Ethnic Studies 11: 3 (Fall 2016), 213-221.
“Indigenous Sovereignty Under and After Spanish Rule.” William and Mary Quarterly 68:4 (October 2011), 711-717.
“The Contemporary Maya.” Forty-one page annotated bibliography of scholarly literature relating to the contemporary Maya, in Oxford Bibliographies Online: Latin American Studies (published on-line September 2011).
“Partial Panoramas: Recent Studies of Globalization in Yucatán and Guatemala.” Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology, 14:2 (November 2009): 532-540.
“Constructing the Maya.” Ethnohistory 55:4 (Fall 2008), 503-508.
“Introduction: Values of Value.” Jointly authored with David Pedersen. Cultural Anthropology 17:3 (August 2002), 283-290.

Courses Taught

Mexico: From the Aztec Empire to the Drug War
Mayan America
Beyond the Border
Screening Mexico: Mexican Cinema, 1898 to Present
The Caribbean: Cultures and Histories
The Politics and Culture of Memory
Agrarian Studies (Graduate Seminar)
Memory, History and the Archives (Graduate Seminar)
Method and Theory in Historical Studies (Graduate Seminar)

Contact Info

Department of History
Baker Hall 366
P: 412.268.6580
F: 412.268.1019