Dr. Thomas Aleto
Ph.D. University of Illinois
M.A. University of Illinois
B.A. University of Notre Dame
Mesoamerican and South American archaeology; modern cultures of Mexico and South America; folk art; ritual; visual anthropology.
What interested you in Anthropology?
"I took a bus trip to Mexico with my Spanish class after my freshman year of high school. It was a transformative experience; something profound happened to me when I crossed the Rio Grande. Everything about Mexico fascinated me: the landscape, the people, the history, the archaeology. I knew that I had to return soon. I continued to study Spanish in high school, and while a sophomore at the University of Notre Dame I lived and studied in Mexico City. I spent as much time as possible away from school that year, taking advantage of long weekends and playing hooky to visit the ruined archaeological sites of the Aztec, Maya, Teotihuacan and the many other prehistoric civilizations of Mexico. When I returned to Notre Dame, I changed my major from Business Administration to Anthropology.
I attended graduate school at the University of Illinois--Urbana-Champaign with the hope of conducting research in Mexico. However, the politics of the late 1970s made it difficult for foreigners to get excavation permits in Mexico. Instead, I went to Ecuador, where I spent the early 1980s conducting archaeological research. Since coming to Bloomsburg University in 1987, I have shifted my research interests back to my first love, Mexico. However, I have directed my attention toward the living indigenous peoples of the country, who are the modern descendants of the prehistoric cultures that initially captured my attention. Since the early 1990s I have traveled to the most isolated Indian communities where people still make and wear traditional textiles, documenting the creative process, collecting examples of their disappearing craft and capturing photographic portraits of the artists."