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Photo of Junker, Laura L.

Laura L. Junker, PhD


Adjunct Curator, Field Museum

Anthropology, Archaeology


Building & Room:

BSB 2152


1007 W. Harrison Street

Office Phone:

(312) 996-3283


I am an archaeologist and ethnohistorian interested in the political economy and political ecology of pre-modern chiefdoms and states. My archaeological and historical research has focused primarily on Southeast Asia maritime trading polities of the first millennium AD to European contact, particularly prehispanic chiefdoms of the Philippine archipelago, although I have also been involved in field projects in Vietnam, Laos and China. The theoretical topics emphasized in my published works include: the role of long-distance prestige goods trade; marriage exchanges and competitive feasting in Southeast Asian political economies; political and demographic aspects of warfare and slave-raiding; the long-term dynamics of forager-farmer interactions; the organization of craft production systems in complex societies; comparative political structures in Southeast Asia; ecological impacts at ancient trade ports; and gendered power relations.  I carried out regional-scale archaeological research in the Bais-Tanjay Region of the Philippines continuously for severa decades, with an emphasis on the 10th-16th centuries (Early Historic Period) maritime trading polities centered on the Tanjay River Valley and adjacent uplands, with distinct small-scale swidden-farming and forager populations interacted socially and economically with coastal ports. More recently, my research emphasizes the early first millennium AD Metal Age late prehistory at Bacong in the Central Philippines, working on issues of comparison between historically known Philippine polities and their  “Metal Age” precursors. I have both current and past MA and PhD students who have carried out archaeological research in the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, and China.

Selected Grants

U.S. Government, DPAA Grant for Archaeological Survey and Testing of various WWII sites in the Philippines, 2016-2018, Principal Investigator

Henry Luce Foundation, University of Illinois Chicago Southeast Asian Archaeology Academic Training and Collaborative Research Program, 2009-2014, Principal Investigator

University of Illinois at Chicago, Humanities Institute Fellowship for The Impact of Captured Women on Cultural Transmission in Contact Period Philippine Slave-Raiding Chiefdoms, 2007

Selected Publications


1999 Junker, Laura Lee.  Raiding, Trading and Feasting: The Political Economy of Philippine Chiefdoms. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. [2000 co-publication Ateneo de Manila Press]

2003 Morrison, Kathleen and Laura Lee Junker, eds.  Forager-Traders in South and Southeast Asia: Long-Term Histories. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

ARTICLES/BOOK CHAPTERS (selected for topical breadth):

2018   Junker, Laura  Lee and Larissa Smith.  Farmer and Forager Interactions in Southeast Asia. In Handbook of East and Southeast Asian Archaeology, eds.  Junko Habu, Peter Lape, John Olsen,  and Jing Zhichun. Springer Press.

2018    Junker, Laura. Conflictive Trade, Value and Power Relations in Maritime Trading Polities of the 10th-16thCenturies Philippines. In Trade and Civilization, eds. Kristian Kristiansen, Thomas Lindkvist and Janken Myrdal, pp. 413-452. Cambridge University Press.

2014  Junker, Laura Lee. Archaeology of Chiefdoms. International Encyclopedia of the Behavioral and Social Sciences, pp. 376-382. London: Elsevier Press.

2013  Junker, Laura Lee. Konfliktreicher Handel entlang der Grenzen: Die Archäologie eines vorkolonialen philippinischen Klanfürstentums (Conflictive Trade Along the Margins: The Archaeology of a Pre-colonial Philippine Chiefdom).  Antike Welte5(13): 1-11.   [in German]

2010  Junker, Laura Lee and Lisa M. Niziolek. Food Preparation and Feasting in the Household and Political Economy of  Prehispanic Philippine Chiefdoms. In E. Klarich (ed.), Archaeological

Perspectives on Food Preparation in Household and Ritual Contexts, pp. 17-53. Gainesville:University of Florida Press.

2008 Junker, Laura Lee. The Impact of Captured Women on Cultural Transmission in Contact Period Philippine Slave-Raiding Chiefdoms. In C. Cameron (ed.), Invisible Citizens: Slavery in Ancient Pre-State Societiespp. 110-137. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press.

2006  Junker, Laura Lee. Population Dynamics and Urbanism in Pre-Modern Island Southeast Asia. In Glenn Storey (ed.), Urbanism in the Pre-Industrial World: Cross-Cultural Approaches, pp. 186-215. Tuscaloosa, Ala.: University of Alabama Press.

2004 Junker, Laura Lee. Political Economy in the Historic Period Chiefdoms and States of Southeast Asia. In G. Feinman and L. Nicholas (eds.), Archaeological Perspectives on Political Economies, pp. 223-252. Salt Lake City: Univ. of Utah Press.

2002   Junker, Laura Lee. Long-Term Change and Short-Term Shifting in the Economy of Philippine Forager-Traders.  In Beyond Foraging and Collecting: Evolutionary Change in Hunter-Gatherer Settlement Systems, pp. 338-385.  Junko Habu and Ben Fitzhugh (eds.). Madison, Wisc.: Plenum Press.

Other publications in World Archaeology, Research in Economic Anthropology, Asian Perspectives, International Journal of Historical Archaeology, Journal of Southeast Asian Studies.

Professional Leadership

Editor, Asian Perspectives: The Journal for Asian and Pacific Archaeology (2006-2014), published through University of Hawaii Press.

Editorial Board Member for, American Anthropologist (2006-2012), Journal of Archaeological Research (2000-present), Journal of Philippine Studies (2003-present)

Minority Scholarships Committee, Society for American Archaeology (Member 2013-2014 and 2014-2015

Committee for the Status of Women in Archaeology, Society for American Archaeology (2005-2007, 2016-2018)


PhD, University of Michigan
MA, University of Pennsylvania
BA, University of Michigan

Selected Presentations

2018  “Evanescent Centers and Fluctuating Regional Networks: Archaeological Approaches to Urbanism and Socio-Political Connectedness in Emergent ‘Urbanism’ of the Premodern Philippines”. Paper presented at the 22ndIndo-Pacific Prehistory Association Conference, Hue, Vietnam, Sept. 23-28, 2018.

2017  “Battlefield Archaeology in Ancient Europe and Southeast Asia: The Challenge of Remote Histories and Personification of War Events”. Paper presented at the Society for American Archaeology Annual Meetingin Vancouver, Canada, March 30-April 3, 2017.

2016  “Conflictive Trade Along the Margins:  Philippine Chiefdoms and Multiscalar Social Networks in the 10th-16th Centuries South China Sea-Indian Ocean Trade”. Paper presented at the World Archaeological Congress, Kyoto , Japan. August 30- September 3, 2016.

2015 “Metal Age Transitions to Early Historic Maritime Trading Polities in the Philippines: Theoretical Models and Methodological Issues. Paper presented at the 15th International Conference of the European Association of Southeast Asian Archaeologists (EurASEAA), Paris, France, July 6-10,  2015.

2014 (with Larissa Smith) “Trade Along the Margins in the Precolonial Philippines: Upland

Entrepreneurs and the 11th-16th centuries Tanjay Chiefdom. In SymposiumThe Margins of History: Southeast Asian Archaeology from a Highlands Perspective, at the 20th Congress of the Indo-Pacific Prehistory Association (IPPA), Siem Reap, Kingdom of Cambodia, January 12-18, 2014.

2013 “Conflictive Trade, Value and Power Relations in Maritime Trading Polities of the 10th-16th Centuries Philippines in Maritime Trading Polities of the 10th-16thCenturies Philippines. In Trade and Civilization Conference, University of Gothenberg, Sweden, organized by Kristian Kristiansen. May 7-12, 2013. Invited Conference

2013 (with Alexandra de Leon) “Craft Production, Trade, and Socio-Political Complexity in the Philippine Metal Age”. Paper presented at the 78thAnnual Meeting of theSociety for American Archaeologyin Honolulu, HA.

2012  “Hot Trade: Conflict and Exchange at Multiple Scales in 10th-16thCenturies Philippines” Paper presented at the 14thInternational Conference of the European Association of Southeast Asian Archaeologists (EurASEAA)European Association of Southeast Asian Archaeologists, Dublin, Ireland, Sept. 9-13, 2012.

2012  “Modeling Socio-Political Diversity and Change in Southeast Asia”, in Symposium: Leaving Lewis Henry Morgan: New Studies of Societal Variation and Change,Society for American Archaeology,Memphis, TN, April 18-22, 2012.

2012  with Larissa Smith) “Feasting Across Social Boundaries in the Prehispanic and Recent Philippines”, in Symposium: The Networked Feast, Paper presented at the 77thAnnual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Memphis, TN, April 18-22, 2012.

2012  “Slavery in the 10thto 19thCentury Philippines: Woman as Captives and Innovators”. Paper presented at the 28th Annual Visiting Scholar Conference “The Archaeology of Slavery: Toward a Comparative Global Framework”, Center for Archaeological Investigations, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, March 30-31, 2012.

2011 Co-organizer(with Miriam Stark, Rasmi Shoocondej, and Peter Lape) for Luce Southeast Asian Archaeology Initiative Assessment Workshopin Bangkok, Thailand, December 10-14, 2011. Invited Conference

2010  “Conflictive Trade Along the Margins: Value and Power Relations Between Foragers, Tribal Swiddeners, and Lowland Polities in the Prehispanic and Recent Philippines.” Paper presented at the Annual American Anthropological Associationmeeting in New Orleans, LA., November 17-21, 2010.

2010  (with Debra Green) “Agricultural Production, Population Dynamics, and Urban Centers in Pre-Colonial Maritime Trading Polities of the Philippines.” Paper presented at the 75thAnnual Society for American ArchaeologyMeeting in. St. Louis, Missouri, April 14-18, 2010.

Research Currently in Progress

Continuing work on human-wrought ecological changes in the Tanjay Region, Negros Oriental, Philippines through the prehistoric and early historic occupation of the Tanjay River Basin, using GIS remote sensing and geoarchaeology data; in collaboration with Debra Green, University of Oklahoma

Bacong Archaeological Project on Negros Island, continuing collaboration with the National Museum of the Philippinesarchaeologists since 2008, focused on the social structure and political economy of pre-historic (“Metal Age”) precursors to later historical maritime trading politiesof the Philippines after the 9thcentury A.D.

Fieldwork and analysis in support for PhD students currently working on dissertation projects, involving archaeological work in a variety of Southeast Asian countries and China.