Congratulations to Dr. Sarah Oas for her incredible achievement in earning the 2020 Society for American Archaeology Dissertation Award! This award was presented for her detail-driven study into the transformation of food storage, preparation, and consumption in the Cibola region of the Southwest.
Dr. Oas is a CCAC Research Associate and past intern, and she is scheduled to be the lead scholar on this summer’s Cuisine Through Time trip, pending health and safety recommendations.
Previous studies of the Cibola (Zuni) region provide a picture of shifting social relationships in the region, population migration, and settlement reorganization. Dr. Oas’s study delves deeper into the characteristics and effects of food on these events and changes.
Her dissertation focuses on the societal roles that different aspects of food production and cuisine played in the Zuni culture of the American Southwest during the Pueblo II to Pueblo IV periods (A.D. 900–1400). Using available data, past research, historical accounts, and her work with modern Zuni farmers and cooks, Dr. Oas skillfully reconstructs and cross-references many details integral to the cultural roles of food from agriculture to feasting. Dr. Oas’s work also uncovers the transformation of social roles, including the growth of labor burdens on women in Cibola households.
In past research and publications, Dr. Oas investigated a variety of human-flora relationships. This includes the domestication of palm oil and the political and environmental effects of sugar plantations in the Caribbean and West African agriculture.
Crow Canyon is incredibly proud of Dr. Oas for her hard work in piecing together dozens of resources along with her own field work to historically reconstruct these intricate foodways. This award is presented to the best dissertation in our practice each year and it is a great, well-deserved honor for Dr. Oas. We thank her for her commitment to archaeological research and all of her hard work in and outside of Crow Canyon.
Dr. Oas joins several other CCAC researchers and associates who have previously received this award:
- Dave Abbott (Lister Fellow) in 1995
- Mark Varien (Executive Vice President of the Research Institute) in 1998
- Andrew Duff (staff) in 2001
- Wes Bernardini (intern/Lister Fellow) in 2003
- Scott Ortman (intern/staff/Lister Fellow) in 2011
- Matt Peeples (intern) in 2014