Faculty in Mesoamerican Studies

Faculty in Mesoamerican Studies

Faculty in Mesoamerican Studies come from a variety of departments at
California State Unversity, Los Angeles including Archaeology, Art
History, Chicano Studies, and English. The following is a list of the
primary faculty in Mesoamerican Studies.

Aguilar (Professor of Art History)

Manuel Aguilar-Moreno was born in Guadalajara, México. He
received his B.S in Electronic Engineering
and then a certification in Education at the ITESO University.

Following this, Dr. Aguilar-Moreno received
an additional degree in Mexican History with special emphasis on the
of Jalisco, from “El Colegio de Jalisco”. In 1997 he completed his
studies for a
Master’s degree in Latin American Studies at the University of Texas At
Austin, and then in 1999,
received an Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Art History and Anthropology,
also from
the University of Texas at Austin where he studied with the late Dr.
Linda Schele and Dr. Karl Butzer.

Dr. Aguilar-Moreno has made numerous
intensive cultural and investigative research trips within his native
Mexico as well as to diverse countries
of America, Europe, Asia and Africa. He has been a professor of Art
History, World History, History of
México and Biblical Literature at such institutions as the
Jesuit University and the Instituto de Ciencias, in Guadalajara,
Mexico; the University of San Diego, California; the University of
Texas at Austin; and Saint
Peter’s Prep School in New Jersey.
Dr. Aguilar-Moreno was also the Principal of Instituto de Ciencias, the
Jesuit High School in Guadalajara.

He is author of numerous books, among them: The Belen
Cemetery: an architectural and
historical study (1992), The Meaning of the Bible (1994), Quest for the
Atlquiahuitl: Cajititlan
(1995), El
Panteón de Belén y El Culto a los Muertos en
México: Una búsqueda de lo
sobrenatural (1997)
, The Cult of the
Dead in México: Continuity of a Millennial Tradition (1998)
The Perfection
of Silence: The Cult of Death in Mexico and the Cemetery of
(2003), Ulama
(2004), Utopia de Piedra: El Arte Tequitqui de
Mexico (2005), 
and Handbook of Life in the Ancient Aztec
He also has written countless articles in edited books,
journals, magazines
and newspapers.

Dr. Aguilar-Moreno is frequently asked to
present slide shows and lectures on the History of Mexican Art as well
as World
Art in the United States, Mexico and Europe.

Currently, Dr. Aguilar-Moreno is a professor
of World and Latin American Art History at California State University
Los Angeles. He is also professor of Mexican Art History
for summer courses at the University of San Diego.
In 2009, Dr. Aguilar was honored at Cal State L.A. with an Outstanding
Professor Award for 2008-2009. 

Jim Brady
(Professor of Anthropology)

Dr. James Brady is best known for pioneering
the archaeological investigation of Maya caves.Between 1981 and 1989 he
directed excavations at Naj Tunich (National Geographic,
1981, Archaeology Nov/Dec 1986) and from 1990
to 1993 he directed the Petexbatun Regional Cave Survey (National
, February 1993).Moving to Honduras, Brady headed a three
year archaeological investigation of the Talgua region (Cave of the
Skulls, Archaeology May/June 1995).
Since 2001, he has led a Cal State L.A. field
schools in Guatemala and Belize.  He was
also co-directed a project studying a modern survival of the ancient
ballgame (Archaeology Sept/Oct 2003; Smithsonian
Magazine, April 2006)

Dr. Brady's research has been supported by
grants from the National Science Foundation, Foundation for the
Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies, two grants from the Explorers Club
and three
grants from the National Geographic Society. He has also won two
Fulbright Fellowships, a Dumbarton Oaks Fellowship and a Samuel H.
Mellon Bruce Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study of the Visual Arts
at the
National Gallery of Art. He was a visiting professor at the
University of Copenhagen in the Fall of 1998.

He joined the Department
of Anthropology at California State University, Los Angeles in 1998.He
was named the Outstanding Professor for

Dr. Brady's work has
received considerable media attention. He has appeared in television
programs on National Geographic Explorer, The Discovery Channel, A
Learning Channel, and The History Channel.He has also been featured in Newsweek,
Geographic, Archaeology Magazine, Science News
, New
, The Economist and Smithsonian
well as a host of newspapers
including the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times

Cantú (Professor of Chicano Studies and English)

Dr. Roberto Cantú received his  B.A. and M.A. degrees from
San Diego State University, and  his Ph.D. from UCLA in 1982 in
Hispanic Languages and Literatures.  His doctoral dissertation was
on Mexican historian Edmundo O’Gorman, written under the direction of
Argentine philosopher Aníbal Sánchez-Reulet.  As a
graduate student at UCLA, he was the editor of Mester (1972-1975), a literary
journal in which he published work by major Mexican and Latin American
writers, including authors who would become members of the formative
Chicano literary generation, such as Rudolfo Anaya, Tomás
Rivera, Alurista, and Juan Felipe Herrera, among others.  In 1975,
Dr. Cantú was honored by San Diego State University with the
Distinguished Alumni Award.  He  joined the Chicano Studies
faculty in 1976, and in 1994 he began his joint appointment in the
English department.   

In Chicano Studies, Dr. Cantú teaches courses at all levels on
Mexican, Chicano and Mesoamerican literatures.  In 1976, he
organized the Chicano Studies Publication Center, and edited the
bilingual edition of José Vasconcelos’s La raza cósmica/The Cosmic Race (1979),
founded two journals:  Campo
Libre:  Journal of Chicano Studies
(1979-1984), and
Escolios: Revista de Literatura (1976-1979), where he published the
work of Miguel León-Portilla, Edmundo O’Gorman, and José
Lezama Lima (Cuba), to name a few.  In the English department, Dr.
Cantú teaches graduate seminars and upper-division courses on
world literature, including theory and criticism, the European Novel
(Cervantes to Balzac), and Latin American literature.  He has
taught graduate seminars on Octavio Paz, Jorge Luis Borges, and
Caribbean and Avant-Garde literatures.  In 1991, Dr. Cantú
was recognized at Cal State L.A. with the Outstanding Professor Award
for 1990-1991.  In  2008, he received The Big Read
Certificate of Achievement awarded by the National Endowment for the
Arts for Outstanding Contribution to Education.    

Dr. Cantú has consistently contributed to cultural programs at
Cal State L.A.  He was the Project director and coordinator of
Chicano History and Culture Week, held at Cal State L.A. on November
16-20, 1981, commemorating the Bicentennial of the City of Los
Angeles.  He was the organizer of the Rockefeller International
Conference "Technology and Culture in the Mexico-United States Border,"
funded by the Rockefeller Foundation and held at La  Jolla,
California, on October 9-12, 1983.  A total of  ninety-eight
faculty, researchers, and students from major Mexican institutions
participated in this conference with all expenses paid by the
grant.   Approximately eight hundred faculty, students and
the public at large from the U.S. were present at this conference. In
1984, he served as the Project director and organizer of the
Junípero  Serra International Conference held at Cal State
L.A. on December 12, 1984. Participants included four historians from
Spain, four from Mexico, and four from the U.S.  The conference
was co-sponsored by the Instituto de Cooperación Iberoamericana
(Madrid, Spain), and was first taken to Tijuana, where the conference
took place in Tijuana’s  Cultural Center (CECUT) on December 11.
Besides many other conferences and workshops on Chicano Studies and
Ethnic Studies held at Stanford University and at Cal State L.A., Dr.
Cantú also produced a play by Federico García Lorca, Bodas de sangre/Blood Wedding, with
five sold-out performances on April 9-11, 1999, at Cal State L.A.’s
State Playhouse.  In 2008, he organized and coordinated five stage
readings of Rudolfo Anaya’s Bless
Me, Ultima
as part of the Big Read, two at Cal State L.A.
(April 10 & 12), two at the Bilingual Foundation for the Arts (June
14-15), and one in Dallas, Texas (June 28), where our University cast
(fourteen students and five professional actors) closed the City’s Big
Read activities.    

In 2007, Dr. Cantú’s proposal for a Minor in Mesoamerican
Studies was approved at Cal State L.A., the only CSU campus to offer
such a minor.  In 2009, he organized the 2009 Conference on
Mesoamerica with the assistance of faculty and students from Cal State
L.A., a conference that brought scholars from Australia, Germany,
Mexico, Canada, and the United States.  He is currently organizing
the Latino Book and Family Festival with staff from Latino Literacy
Now, a national organization that promotes Chicano/Latino education and
book festivals in major U.S. cities in association with Chicano actor
Edward James Olmos.  The festival will be held at Cal State L.A.
on October 10-11, 2009.  Dr. Cantú is also organizing an
international conference on Octavio Paz, titled “World Civilizations,
Modernity, and Octavio Paz:  A Plurality of Pasts and Futures,” to
be held at Cal State L.A. on May 14-15, 2010.    

Dr. Cantú is an established literary critic in Mexican and
Chicano literature, with publications in the field ranging from 1972 to
the present.  He has taught at UC Santa Barbara and UC Irvine on
several occasions as a Visiting Professor.  In 2008 he was elected
to the Octavio Paz Society. In 2009, Dr. Cantú was recognized by
his colleagues with the 2010 President's Distinguished Professor

He can be reached at rcantu@calstatela.edu 
(323) 343-2195 (campus office with voice-mail).

Aaron Huey
Sonnenschein (Assistant Professor of English)

Aaron Huey Sonnenschein completed his dissertation, A Descriptive Grammar of San
Bartolomé Zoogocho Zapotec,
at the University of
Southern California in 2004. This grammar was published in 2005. Brook
Danielle Lillehaugen and Dr. Sonnenschein are planning to publish the
first edited volume on spatial language in Zapotecan languages, Expressing Location in Zapotec, in
the second half of 2009. While dedicated to his primary passion, the
documentation and revitalization of endangered languages (especially
the languages of Oaxaca), he has also conducted original research on
the search for linguistic universals,the underlying reasons for such
universals, and comparative Otomanguean and Mesoamerican linguistics.

Dr. Sonnenschein also works with an interdisciplinary research group of
historians and linguists at UCLA who translate and analyze Colonial
Valley Zapotec texts. This research broadens our knowledge of both the
history of colonial Oaxaca and the Zapotec language as it was spoken
during this era. Recently he began work on a 17th century Sierra
Zapotec phrasebook which has already expanded our knowledge of Zapotec
and Mesoamerican number systems.

Along with Danny Zborover, Dr. Sonnenschein is planning work on another
highly endangered Mesoamerican language, Highland Chontal. This project
will draw on his strength as a descriptive linguist and Danny’s years
of experience as an archaeologist in the Highland Chontal region.
Beyond linguistic description, this innovative multidisciplinary
project will provide ethnographic, historical, and archaeological
documentation of rapidly disappearing Highland Chontal traditions.

Dr. Sonnenschein began teaching at California State University, Los
Angeles in the summer quarter of 2005 as a part-time faculty member. In
the fall of 2008, he became a tenure-track faculty member. Dr.
Sonnenschein has had the great pleasure of teaching a variety of
linguistics courses in the Department of English, incorporating service
learning into two of his courses. Along with Michelle Hawley, he has
made a strong partnership with the East Los Angeles Community Youth
Center. (See /univ/ppa/spotlight/archive/2009/ELACYC-CSULA.php
for more information.) CSULA has also provided an ideal place to
continue his work on the indigenous languages of Mesoamerica.

Dr. Sonnenschein can be reached either at asonnen@exchange.calstatela.edu
or at (323)343-4161(campus office with voice-mail).