University of Colorado at Boulder

Department of Anthropology

Gerardo Gutiérrez


I study how human activities generate political and economic arrangements that are reflected on landscapes. In particular. I have analyzed the territorial appropriation of large areas by prehistoric political groups: how and why polities formed, defended, and expanded their territories, and subsequently adapted to the intrusion of larger states and empires.


I am an expert in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and have actively promoted its use in liberal arts contexts. I conceived and implemented ANTROPOSIG, a website that provides GIS mapping and databases for anthropologists, archaeologists and historians interested in Mexico and Guatemala.  At present, I am implementing the use of GIS to reconstruct the ancient landscapes and memories captured in Precolumbian and Colonial Codices of Mexico. 


My primary region of interest is Mesoamerica. Currently, I am involved in two research projects. The first is an Archaeological and Ethnohistoric project that studies the political formation of the Tlapanec Kingdom of Tlachinollan in Eastern Guerrero, its annexation to the Aztec Empire, and its Postclassic to Spanish-era transition. 


The second project is the “Topography of a Disaster,” which has focused on the devastating effects seen in the Soconusco region in Chiapas from Hurricane Stan in 2005. The project considers the profound changes wrought to the landscape of the Coatan River Basin and how the inhabitants have adapted to it, particularly in terms of settlement patterns and agricultural and subsistence strategies. This research has reoriented my interests to the archaeological study of ancient disasters in Mesoamerica and how native societies have coped with risk and vulnerability.

Assistant Professor

(Ph.D. 2002, The Pennsylvania State University)