W. Warner Wood

Associate Professor


PhD., University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign


My research is focused on the cultural politics of heritage in global context. To date my work has centered mostly on ecotourism and cultural tourism sites in Oaxaca, Mexico and the United States, although I am also interested in museums as important sites for the production of meaning. My interest is in the differing interpretations of material culture items and the environment that are constructed/contested by various stakeholders. I focus on the material culture of the people who visit, live, and work in such localities in order to better understand the transnational articulations in which they are embedded.

My first book, Made in Mexico: Zapotec Weavers and the Global Ethnic Art Market (Indiana U. Press, 2008) is an ethnographic account that follows weavers, designs, wool, and finished textiles primarily between Oaxaca, Mexico and the American Southwest. Following weavers and textiles between Oaxaca and the Southwest required a multi-sited approach and enabled me to understand how the lives and careers of Zapotec weavers (and their textiles) are produced and negotiated through the practices of a host of actors—a transnational “community of practice.” I’m currently extending this research into Northern India where similar textiles are now being produced for markets in the American Southwest.

My research efforts are now also focused on the Pacific Coast of Oaxaca, Mexico and on community museum development at an ecotourism site. In this project I am employing a participatory action research methodology to work together with a community coop focused on mangrove conservation. I am in the early stages of this project and it will require me (and my students) to travel to Oaxaca for the next several years and will culminate in the opening of a museum and traveling exhibit as well as the publication of an exhibition catalog chronicling the lives and work of the members of the cooperative.

Other Relevant Activities

Coordinator, Museum Studies Graduate Certificate Program
Adjunct Curator, Milwaukee Public Museum

Courses Taught

Anthro 102 - Introduction to Anthropology- Culture and Society
Anthro 354 - Art, Aesthetics, and Culture
Anthro 450 - The Anthropology of Tourism
Anthro 721 - Administration and Organization of Museums
Anthro 723 - Museum Curation
Anthro 920 - Seminar in Museological Problems

Selected Exhibitions:

Nuestra Casa, the Exhibition, January–December 2012. Centennial Museum and Chihuahuan Desert Gardens, University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX. Co-curated with Lucia Dura, Eva Moya, Guillermina Núñez-Mchiri, Damien Schumann, and Arvind Singhal.

A River Interrupted: Making the Case for Changing Our Management of the Rio Grande, May–December 2011. Centennial Museum and Chihuahuan Desert Gardens, University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX. Co-curated with Scott Culter, Judith Rios Aranas, John Sproul, and Elizabeth Walsh.

Harnessing the Wind’s Power, Tracking the Wild Horse Wind Facility Story, April 2008-Current. Puget Sound Energy Wild Horse Wind Facility Visitor Center, Ellensburg, WA. Co-curated with Kathleen Barlow, Morris Eubelacker, Andy Granitto, James Huckabay, Karl Lilquist, Patrick McCutcheon, Naomi Jeffery Petersen, and Kathryn Sample.

Conversations, February– June 2005. Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles, CA. Co-curated with Margaret Hardin, Gordon Hendler, Joel Martin, Johnathan Spaulding, and Ángel Valdés.

What is Mexican Folk Art?, October 2003 – January 2004. Natural History Museum of Los Angels County, Los Angeles, CA. Co-curated with: Daniel Danzig.

Selected Publications

Wood, W. W.(2017) Art by Dispossession at El Paso Saddleblanket Company: Commodification and Graduated Sovereignty in Global Capitalism.Howland, D. , Mayer, M. , & Lillehoj, E. (Eds). Art and Sovereignty in Global Politics, 169-195. New York, NY: Palgrave.
Moya, E. M., Chavez-Baray, S. M., Wood, W. W., & Martinez, O. (2016) Nuestra Casa: An advocacy initiative to reduce inequalities and tuberculosis along the US-Mexico border.International Public Health Journal, 16(2), 107-119.
Wood, W. W.(2014) On the Voice of the Other: Science, Power, and Diversity's Revolt in the Museum--A Manifesto of Sorts.Jackson, J. (Ed). Museum Anthropology Review, 8(1), 45-54.