Michael L. Vasquez, PhD

Michael L. Vasquez Professor
Northern Arizona University
Blg 70 Rm #272
Phone: 928-523-9506


  • Applied Socio-Cultural
  • Cultural Ecology
  • Globalization
  • Community-based Research
  • Community Education
  • Refugees
  • Sustainability
  • Indigenous Agriculture
  • US Southwest
  • Mesoamerica


AA, City College of San Francisco
BA, University of California-Berkeley 1970
MA, San Francisco State University 1980
MS, PhD, University of California-Davis 1989


Dr. Michael (Miguel) Vasquez is an applied anthropologist who has worked with Mayan, Latino, Native American, African American, and diverse refugee communities for more than 30 years in the areas of globalization and its impacts, traditional ecological knowledge, community-based participatory research, and rapid qualitative assessment techniques. He is a recipient of the Community Luminary Award from The State of Black Arizona and, in 2009, was awarded the NAU Presidents Distinguished Teaching Fellow Award. His spouse of 40 years, Marina, is a Mayan Traditional Knowledge Scholar with the NAU Applied Indigenous Studies Program.

Vasquez has provided consultation for Catholic Charities, the Hopi Tribe, the Havasupai Tribe, the National Park Service, the World Health Organization, the US Department of Health and Human Services, and the Sunnyside Neighborhood Association of Flagstaff. He has served on the board of the International Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, the Arizona Association of Chicanos in Higher Education, and the Museum of Northern Arizona, Friends of Flagstaff’s Future, Flagstaff Unified School District, and twice on the Executive Committee of the Society for Applied Anthropology.

His work at NAU has focused on community-based ethnography and applied anthropology with both local indigenous groups and minority communities in Arizona and across the country. His work in Arizona has emphasized reciprocity between NAU and diverse organizations to strengthen both local community cultural assets and the educational experience for NAU students. This collaboration began with the Havasupai Tribe in the creation of the video documentary, “Farmers of the Grand Canyon” and later led to work with the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office (HCPO ) which helped restore Bacavi Village’s 700 year old terrace gardens to safe and productive use, as well as documentation and education of local youth in traditional agro-ecological knowledge.

Ties between NAU Anthropology and the HCPO developed into other projects. Together with other NAU faculty, the HCPO, the National Park Service, and the Hopi Foundation, Vasquez helped to develop a Ruins Preservation Training Workshop for unemployed Hopi youth, which has generated careers in cultural preservation and a new interest in the relevance of anthropology for the Hopi. NAU students have collaborated closely with the HCPO: in transcription for tribal archives, development of a cultural curriculum with the NAU Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals, research in cultural affiliation, development of health and nutrition media materials for the Hopi Health Center. Students also created the original HCPO website, winning the national student award of the Society for Applied Anthropology. More recently, he served as a consultant for the NEH-funded Hopi Foot Prints Project to develop K-8 cultural curriculum with several reservation schools.

Another focus of his work, sponsored by the US Department of Health and Human Services, has been as Trainer and Analyst with the RARE (Rapid Assessment Response and Evaluation) Project, working with minority communities to reduce HIV/AIDS risk factors. This work helped to reduce the number of new HIV/AIDS cases in African American and Latino communities across the country. 

In the past few years he has combined RARE methodologies with community-based research to better engage Latino and Native American parents in their childrens’ STEM education in a Title I school in Flagstaff.

Coming full circle with his original work with Southeast Asian refugee communities more than 30 years ago, Vasquez is also currently involved in documenting innovative refugee integration programs for Middle-Eastern refugees in Vienna, Austria. The project incorporates RARE methodologies in determining and highlighting factors for success in integrating displaced families into the fabric of host societies.

Selected Publications

2013     “A Latino Anthropologist in Arizona: Obligations and Opportunities”, chapter for edited volume Engaged Anthropology  in  Annals of Anthropological Practice, May 37(1):1-204,  L. Whiteford & L. Bennett, editors. National Association of Practicing Anthropologists

2009     “Restoring for Cultural-Ecological Sustainability in Arizona and Connecticut” (with D. Casagrande) in Restoria: Renewing the Land, Recovering the Past, (Marcus Hall, editor) MIT Press

2002     “Cultural Integrity in Non-Traditional Societies: Cuba Encounters the Global Market System,” Cultural Dynamics (Special Issue): “The Right to Culture: Policy Dilemmas and Challenges.”  Summer.

2001     “Latinos: Viva la Diferencia,” Cultural Resource Management, Vol. 24, No. 5, Pages 22-23, Spring.

2001     “The Hopi of Arizona” in Endangered Peoples: North America and the Caribbean, (T. Graves, editor), Greenwood Press

2000     Native People and the Challenge of Computers: Reservation Schools, Individualism, & Consumerism,” with Bowers and Roaf, American Indian Quarterly, Vol. 24, No. 2, Spring.