Tiffany C. Cain is a scholar of political violence, settler colonialism, materiality, and collective memory. She is an anthropologist committed to imagining more cooperative and generative relationships between indigenous, black, and hemispheric American studies. She investigates settler colonialism as a form of political violence and focuses especially on how such violence, the things and places it generates, and the memories that result from its experience yield collective notions of heritage and sociopolitical consciousness across time. She combines methodologies and theoretical frameworks from across a variety of fields including archaeology, cultural anthropology, indigenous studies, history, comparative literature, and linguistics to address these issues.
Cain’s current book project, "Things of War," emerged from her participation in a collaborative heritage initiative in Quintana Roo, Mexico. This work is anchored by an interest in the history and afterlife of the Maya Social War (or, Caste War of Yucatan)—one of the most successful anticolonial indigenous insurrections ever mounted in the Americas. She is co-editor of two collections: Engendering Heritage: Contemporary Feminist Approaches to Archaeological Heritage Practice (2020, special issue AP3A) and Coloniality in the Maya Lowlands: Archaeological Perspectives (forthcoming, University Press of Colorado). Her courses at Princeton include Native American & Indigenous Studies, Making History: Museums, Monuments, & Cultural Heritage, and Race, Gender, Empire.
Cain holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania. She completed her M.A. in Anthropology and B.A. in Archaeology conterminously at Stanford University. She has received fellowships from the Ford Foundation, Mellon Mays, the William Fontaine Society, and the Louis J. Kolb Society, and her field research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, and a Foreign Language and Area Studies grant for Yukatek Maya.