Stephen Acabado

Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology

Fowler Bldg A190-A

Haines Hall 370



Ph.D., University of Hawai’i (2010)

Areas of Interest

Historical ecology; landscape archaeology; agricultural systems; settlement patterns; emergent complexity; indigenous peoples; Southeast Asia; Philippines; Guam; Micronesia


My research focuses on  the relationships between Southeast Asian agricultural complexes, self-organization, and the landscape.   My investigations among the Ifugao of the northern Philippines integrates ethnography, ethnohistory, spatial analysis (through Geographic Information Systems), and archaeology. I am also engaged with the local community, through the Save the Ifugao Terraces Movement (SITMo – a community-based organization/grassroots NGO whose main objective is to preserve the rice terraces and help document Ifugao intangible heritage) in developing conservation plans for their upland rice terraces. My long-term research goals include documenting Southeast East Asian agricultural systems and contribute to intensification debates utilizing Southeast Asian production systems as case studies.

Presently, I direct the Ifugao Archaeological Project (IAP).  The IAP investigates relationships between Southeast Asian agrocultural complexes, subsistence shifts and health, self-organization, and the landscape. My studies among the Ifugao provide an opportunity to settle an ongoing debate as to the origins and antiquity of Philippine Cordillera agricultural terraces and address research questions that crosses traditional disciplinary boundaries. The focus on the archaeology of agriculture offers an opportunity to further investigate agricultural intensification and risk minimization, self-organization, population migration, effects of European colonialism to local subsistence and political patterns in Southeast Asia, and sustainable agricultural systems.


(In press - 2014). Rice Pots or Not? Exploring Ancient Ifugao Foodways through Organic Residue Analysis and Palaeobotany. National Museum Cultural Heritage Journal, 1:1 (with M. Eusenbio, J. Ceron, and J. Krigbaum)

(In press - 2014). Community Participation in the Ifugao Archaeological Project. National Museum Cultural Heritage Journal, 1:1 (with M. Martin).

(In press - 2014). Infant Death and Burial Practices in Late Prehistoric Kiyyangan Village, Kiangan, Ifugao. National Museum Cultural Heritage Journal, 1:1 (with A. Lauer).

(In press - 2014). Did the Little Ice Age contribute to the emergence of rice terrace farming in Ifugao, Philippines? National Museum Cultural Heritage Journal, 1:1 (with J.A. Peterson).

(In press - 2014). Defining Ifugao Social Organization: “House”, Field, and Self-Organizing Principles in the Northern Philippines. Asian Perspectives 52(2).

2012. The Ifugao Agricultural Landscapes: Complementary Systems and the Intensification Debate. Journal Of Southeast Asian Studies 43(3): 500-522.

2012. Taro Before Rice Terraces: Implications of Radiocarbon Determinations, Ethnohistoric Reconstructions, and Ethnography in Dating the Ifugao Terraces. In M. Spriggs, D. Addison, And P.J. Matthews (Eds), Irrigated Taro (Colocassia Esculenta) in the Indo-Pacific: Biological And Historical Perspectives. Senri Ethnological Studies. Vol (N.D.). National Museum of Ethnology: Osaka.

2010. Landscapes and the Archaeology of the Ifugao Agricultural Terraces: Establishing  Antiquity and Social Organisation. Hukay: Journal for Archaeological Research in Asia and the Pacific, 15: 31-61.

2009. A Bayesian Approach to Dating Agricultural Terraces: A Case from the Philippines. Antiquity 83(2009): 801-814.


2012. National Geographic Society-Committee for Research and Exploration Grant. Ifugao Archaeological Project.

2011. National Parks Service. Cultural Landscape Inventory and Interim Treatment Plan for Asan and Agat Invasion Beaches, Guam.

2011. National Parks Service. Climate Change Vulnerability Assessments on Known Archeological Sites at War in the Pacific National Historical Park (Guam) and American Memorial Park (Saipan)

2011. Archeological Site Condition Assessments and Cave Inventories at War in the Pacific National Historical Park (Guam) and American Memorial Park (Saipan)

2011. GeoEye Foundation Imagery Grant for San Remigio, Cebu Archaeological Project.

2007-2008. Henry Luce Foundation/American Council of Learned Societies Dissertation Fellowship

2007-2008. National Science Foundation Dissertation Improvement Grant: Landscapes and Self-Organizing Systems: The Archaeology of the Ifugao Rice Terraces, Northern Philippines

2001-2006. Asian Cultural Council Fellowship (ACC), ACC New York and ACC Philippines.