I am working toward my PhD in socio-cultural anthropology at the University of Chicago, where I have likewise experimented with creative visual methodologies such as graphic ethnography and film to better engage with local communities and the public in Oaxaca, Mexico. My dissertation is a multiscalar ethnography that explores the concept of “heritage” and its more affective, moral, and sacred valences, seeking to attend to how monumental heritage, as national and global institutions like UNESCO define it, circulates through transnational circuits and becomes a human right and kind of material “idol.” As such, my research examines indigenous Zapotec ontologies of heritage sites in Mitla and Oaxaca City, and explores the frictions that emerge between these communities, local heritage institutions, and global actors. Aside from a strong investment in fieldwork in Oaxaca where I have worked since 2008, my research also has taken me to Kenya, Peru, and Cuba, and I have training as both an archaeologist and historian. I also have along-term interest in drawing and experimental and documentary film, and abiding interests in nostalgia, temporality, and materiality.

Email: hleathem@uchicago.edu