David Tavarez

Professor of Anthropology

A first-generation college graduate from Ciudad Juárez, David Tavárez is a historian of Latin America and a linguistic anthropologist. His courses and research focus on language, culture and history; Mesoamerican societies; religion and ritual practice; colonial Nahuatl and Zapotec texts; Indigenous intellectuals; and native Christianities and the suppression of Indigenous religions. He is the author of the books The Invisible War, Rethinking Zapotec Time, and more than 50 peer-reviewed articles and chapters; editor of Words and Worlds Turned Around; and co-author of Painted Words, and Chimalpahin's Conquest. His research has been funded by awards from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Science Foundation. However, his daughter knows far more than him about dragons.

BA, Harvard University; MA, PhD, University of Chicago
At Vassar since 2003


Blodgett Hall
Box 430

Research and Academic Interests

Linguistic anthropology
Latin American history
Colonial rule and resistance
Indigenous intellectuals
Cosmology and ritual

Selected Publications



In the Media

David Tavárez, Professor of Anthropology, was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship for a project entitled Word, Time, and Resistance in Colonial Mexico: The Zapotec Books of the Cosmos. Vassar Quarterly, Spring/Summer 2017.

Interview after public lecture, organized by the Archaeological Institute of America, at the Houston Museum of Natural Science to inaugurate the exhibit The Virgin of Guadalupe: Empress of the Americas.

L.A. is known as a mecca for court interpreters, but when a defendant or witness speaks a rare dialect, officials may resort to unusual remedies. Los Angeles Times, February 21, 2009


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David Eduardo Tavarez
Photo: Karl Rabe / Vassar College