Loyola University Chicago

Department of Anthropology

Dr. Christopher Hernández


Assistant Professor
Department of Anthropology
Lake Shore Campus, BVM 703
1032 W. Sheridan Road
Chicago, IL 60660


Christopher Hernández is an anthropological archaeologist who received his PhD from Northwestern University in 2017. His work is fundamentally shaped by the issue of contemporary relevance. How does the past matter or not? This question stems from his upbringing in Chicago as the child of Guatemalan migrants who talked endlessly about their love for Guatemala and the importance of ancient Maya history. Searching for a sense of self in a country that treats all Latinx peoples as foreigners led him to study ancient pyramids as well as contemporary culture: given the pride felt for the Indigenous past, why are contemporary Maya peoples treated so poorly in Guatemala and other parts of Latin America? This formative experience shapes how and why he conducts research.

Current Research

Dr. Hernández’s current research is focused on issues of archaeological ethics, the application of community-based methods, relational philosophy, and understanding social conflict in long-term perspective. Through the application of aerial laser scanning (lidar), documentary analysis, and traditional excavation methods, he investigates how the process of making war shaped landscapes at a regional level. This analysis entails collaborative research into martial tactics and the consolidation of archaeological remains to attract tourism. The reconstruction of ancient structures is conducted in service of the local Indigenous community of Puerto Bello Metzabok.


Recent Publications

Under review  Archaeology Isn’t Just about the Past. In Traces: An Open Introduction to Archaeology and Anthropology, edited by Isabel Scarborough, Jennifer Zovar, John Donahue, and Ian S. Ray.

Accepted         Tactical and Strategic Landscapes: A Study of Maya Fortification at Tzunun, Chiapas, Mexico. Submitted to Ancient Mesoamerica.

Accepted         Special Section: Unleashing Maya Warfare: Inquiry into the Practical Aspects of War-making. Submitted to Ancient Mesoamerica. With Justin Bracken.

Accepted         Cultural Dimensions of Warfare in the Maya World. Submitted to Ancient Mesoamerica. With Nam Kim (senior author), Justin Bracken, and Ken Seligson.

2023                Is war inevitable? Consider the ancient Maya. Sapiens. With Justin Bracken. https://www.sapiens.org/archaeology/tactics-war-archaeology/

2022                Lunar Power in Ancient Maya Cities. In City Nights: Archaeology of Night, Darkness, and Luminosity in Ancient Urban Environments, edited by Nancy Gonlin and Meghan Strong. Louisville: University of Colorado Press. With Kristin Landau (senior author) and Nancy Gonlin.

2020                Long-Term Collaborative Research with Lacandon Maya at Mensäbäk, Chiapas, Mexico. The Mayanist, 2(1):1-20. With Joel Palka (senior author), A. Fabiola Sánchez Balderas, Ian Hollingshead, Alice Balsanelli, Santiago Juárez, Josuhé Lozada Toledo, R. Jon McGee, Sebastián Salgado-Flores.

2020                Battle Lines of the North American Southwest: An Inquiry into Prehispanic and Post-Contact Pueblo Tactics of War. Kiva: Journal of Southwestern Anthropology and History, 86 (1): 47-69. https://doi.org/10.1080/00231940.2019.1684004.

2019                Maya Warfare, Symbols and Ritual Landscapes. In Seeking Conflict: Understanding Ancient Maya Hostilities Through Text and Image, edited by S.G. Morton and M.M. Peuramaki-Brown. Louisville: University Press of Colorado. With Joel Palka.

2019                The Site of Noh K’uh, Chiapas, Mexico: A Late Preclassic Settlement in the Mensäbäk Basin. Latin American Antiquity, 30 (1): 211-217. doi:10.1017/laq.2018.81. With Santiago Juarez (senior author) and Sebastian Salgado-Flores.

2018                Is Bearing Witness Enough? American Anthropologist, 120 (3):543-544.


Videos and Other Media

2022                “Paisajes desiguales: geografía sagrada, arquitectura y desigualdad en Tzunun, Chiapas, Mexico.” https://youtu.be/zZyIXWswvxI

2022                “Uneven Landscapes–SAA 2022 Presentation.” https://youtu.be/H_IXmgvteAg

2022                “Collaboration and Consent in Aerial Reconnaissance: A View from Rural Chiapas, Mexico.” https://youtu.be/3-wzaYb-pDM.

2019                “Archaeology as a Process for Social Justice?” https://youtu.be/LxkvPK3s_6s.

2019                “Anthropology: Scholarship that Makes a Difference.” https://youtu.be/yNdhCXfljAQ.