Alex Coarcia Putnam Headshot Fall 2023

Alexander Garcia-Putnam

Postdoctoral Diversity & Innov Scholar
Office: UNH COLA Anthropology, Morrill Hall, Durham, NH 03824
Pronouns: He/him/his

Alex Garcia-Putnam is a Postdoctoral Diversity and Innovation Scholar in the Anthropology Department and works in the Forensic Anthropology Identification and Recovery (F.A.I.R.) Lab at UNH. He is a historical bioarchaeologist who specializes in the intersections between inequality, violence, and epidemic disease.

Alex has worked across the US, most recently as the Assistant State Physical Anthropologist for Washington State. In that role, Alex was responsible for the recovery and analysis of all archaeological human remains found on state and private land in Washington and worked with Tribes and other groups toward a respectful final disposition for the remains. Alex has also worked internationally in Jordan, SE Asia, and the Pacific, and has active research projects in Peru and Louisiana. He is interested in applied aspects of bioarchaeology, working with descendant communities, and working with existing osteological collections.

Alex’s work in Louisiana focuses on a collection of skeletal remains from Charity Hospital (dating from the 1840s to the 1920s), an indigent or poor hospital in New Orleans. The individuals who make up the skeletal collections were the poorest inhabitants of the city, and they were subjected to violence, harsh labor demands, and epidemic disease. Coupled with the inequalities they faced in life, in death their bodies were dissected and experimented upon without their consent, by the hospital’s medical students. Their skeletal remains tell the story of their lived experiences and their postmortem fate.

As an offshoot of this research, Alex has also begun a biohistoric project analyzing the hospital records from Charity, as well as local and regional newspapers and other sources to explore the lives of the individuals treated at Charity and to explore the role that Yellow Fever played in shaping the hospital, the city, and the country during the 19th century.

Alex also has an upcoming research project in the Central Andes of Peru. He and his collaborators will be excavating a colonial obraje or textile workshop-town and exploring the physical manifestations of inequality and violence, in the form of forced labor, embodied on the remains of the obraje’s indigenous laborers.

Education

  • Ph.D., Anthropology, University of Wyoming

Selected Publications

  • Toohey, J. L., Murphy, M. S., Chirinos Ogata, P., Stagg, S. G., & Garcia-Putnam, A. (2024). A monumental stone plaza at 4750 B.P. in the Cajamarca Valley of Peru.. Sci Adv, 10(7), eadl0572. doi:10.1126/sciadv.adl0572

  • Garcia-Putnam, A., Halling, C., & Seidemann, R. M. (2023). Postmortem Examination as Necroviolence at Charity Hospital Cemetery No. 2 (1847–1929). Historical Archaeology, 57(2), 788-808. doi:10.1007/s41636-023-00408-0

  • Garcia‐Putnam, A., Halling, C., & Seidemann, R. (2021). Stress, health and demography at Charity Hospital Cemetery #2 (AD1847–1929). International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, 31(6), 1192-1202. doi:10.1002/oa.3030

  • Haas, R., Stefanescu, I. C., Garcia-Putnam, A., Aldenderfer, M. S., Clementz, M. T., Murphy, M. S., . . . Watson, J. T. (2017). Humans permanently occupied the Andean highlands by at least 7 ka. Royal Society Open Science, 4(6), 170331. doi:10.1098/rsos.170331