Kaitlin M. Brown

Graduate Student

Office Hours

by appointment

Office Location

HSSB 1036
HSSB 2042


  • Culture Contact/ Colonialism/ Postcolonialism           
  • Archaeology of Ethnicity/ Identity/ Gender
  • Craft production and specialization                         
  • Political economy       
  • Socio-politics of archaeology
  • Archaeological ethics
  • California and Great Basin



2013-present    Ph.D. (in progress) University of California, Santa Barbara/ Anthropology with an emphasis in Archaeology

2010-2013       Master of Arts California State University, Los Angeles/ Anthropology with an emphasis in Archaeology     

Distinguished Master’s Thesis: College of Natural and Social Sciences                                                                   

“A Functional Analysis of Asphaltum Utilization on San Nicolas Island: Acquisition, Processing, and Application at the Tule Creek Village Site (CA-SNI-25) San Nicolas Island, California.”

2006-2008        Bachelor of Arts  University of California, San Diego/ Anthropology with an emphasis in Archaeology 



I am an anthropological archaeologist whose research focuses on the materiality of identity; on gender, agency, and technology; on the roles of objects and built space in shaping of everyday experience; and on community collaborative archaeology. I am especially interested in investigating these issues among the Chumash during the Colonial period.



Identity Politics and Everyday Practice among the Chumash during the Mission Period

This dissertation assesses the impacts of Spanish colonization on Chumash families and communities living in the Santa Ynez Valley during the Mission period (AD 1782-1833). The mission system was established to prevent the advancement of Russian fur traders from the North and for converting local peoples into loyal Spanish subjects through relocation programs, intensive labor regimes, and strict religious indoctrination. However, not all indigenous peoples relocated to mission institutions during this time, suggesting that Chumash peoples experienced everyday live differently depending on where they were spatially and socially situated. Archaeological data collected from within and outside the mission space will be used to address the primary research question proposed here: how did Western imperialism affect indigenous notions of identity and everyday practices across the colonial landscape in Alta California? In order to investigate this issue, I will compare indigenous craft industries, architecture, subsistence practices, and the domestic use of space in the Indian Apartments at Mission La Purisima to the historic Chumash village Soxtonokmu, located 17 mi southeast from the mission grounds. A three-phase data collection program will be used to test expectations about the relationships between material correlates and indigenous notions of identity, differential access to resources, and New Spain’s sphere of political and economic influence across the landscape in the Chumash region.



Phase 1 involved a geophysical (GPR and gradiometry) survey conducted at Mission La Purisima Conception in the summer of 2017. Intact features within the Indian family apartments were identified, as well as activity areas adjacent to this area. GIS-based georeferencing of previous excavation maps corroborate these data, illustrating that features in the apartments remain intact to excavate for archaeological analysis. Phase 2 includes archaeological investigations over the course of 2019 that will target the interior of one room within the apartments, the garden and backyard of these dwellings, and a large midden adjacent to this area. Phase 3 involves a study of the Chumash hinterland village, Soxtonokmu, whereby an archaeological survey and the excavation of a small section of the village will be conducted.


Community Collaboration with Indigenous California Basketweavers

Indigenous basketweavers don’t just weave baskets, they participate in deeply-rooted historical processes that create persistent communities up through the present day. In order to understand these social practices better, Kaitlin Brown, Dana Bardolph, and Jan Timbrook invited three Native California basketweavers to participate in a discussion and demonstration co-sponsored by the Society for California Archaeology Month Mini-Grants at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), as part of a “Community Matters” series organized through the UCSB Interdisciplinary Humanities Center. This event facilitated an open discussion between anthropologists and contemporary basketweavers in order to better understand the practices and processes involved in basketweaving and the reasons why indigenous peoples continue to weave today. This event is currently being transcribed.



Forthcoming publication: “Communities of Practice and Persistent Craft Traditions: Past and Present Perspectives on Indigenous California Basketweaving"


Socio-politics in Archaeological Practice

As a member of the UCSB Gender Equity group led by Dr. Amber Vanderwarker, I am particularly interested in a reflexive approach to archaeological practice. I am working on a paper entitled “Gender, Race, and Mentorship: A Perspective from California Archaeology” that uses qualitative and quantitative data to understand the differences in men’s and women’s experiences with mentors in the academy. I am also interested in addressing questions related to ethical issues in co-authorship and publication, diversifying archaeology, and working with local indigenous groups.


2018    Crafting Identity: Aquisition, Production, Use, and Recycling of Soapstone during the Mission Period in Alta California. American Antiquity, in press. 

2016    Asphaltum (bitumen) production in everyday life on the California Channel Islands. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 43:66-76.

2014    Sourcing archaeological asphaltum (bitumen) from the California Channel Islands to submarine seeps.  Journal of Archaeological Science 43:66-76. By Kaitlin M. Brown, Jacques Connan, Nicholas W. Poister, René L. Vellanoweth, John Zumberge, Michael H. Engel.

2014    Linking the artifact to the activity: Tarring pebble classification and use of asphaltum on San Nicolas Island, CAJournal of California Archaeology 6(1):1-22. By Kaitlin M. Brown and René L.Vellanoweth.


In progress

"Gender, Race, and Mentorship: A Perspective from California Archaeology"

"Communities of Practice and Persistent Craft Traditions: Past and Present Perspectives on Indigenous California Basketweaving"