Historical Archaeology

LandscapeThe archaeology program at the University of Illinois provides students with opportunities to specialize in historical archaeology, historical perspectives in archaeology and anthropology, and heritage studies. Founded by Julian H. Steward, Donald Lathrap, John C. McGregor, and Charles Bareis, our archaeology program has traditionally emphasized strong graduate training in archaeological methodologies, comparative approaches, theory and fieldwork. Our program offers Ph.D. and M.A. degrees, including an M.A. tracks concentrating on Cultural Heritage and Landscape and Museum Studies, offered in conjunction with the Department of Landscape Architecture. (We do not offer a terminal M.A. track; students earn M.A. degrees as part of the Ph.D. program.) The Departments of Anthropology and Landscape Architecture also host the Cultural Heritage and Museum Practices (CHAMP) program, an interdisciplinary collaborative for the critical study of cultural heritage and museums in a global context.

Historical archaeology projects utilize artifactual, documentary, and oral history evidence in interpreting the past, and contribute to our understanding of the ways by which material culture can be used to study race, class, gender, and ethnic identities. Our research projects address questions such as: How can we analyze the material remains of past culture groups to account for the varied ways in which human societies organized themselves? What cultural, social, political, and ecological processes contributed to continuity or change in past social forms and material culture? How do we recognize and study the past dynamics of ethnicity, class, gender, and racialization in archaeological remains?

Archaeology faculty regularly offer an array of methods courses (archaeometry, lithic analysis, ceramic analysis, surveying techniques, GIS, quantitative analysis), regional survey courses (Africa, Central Andes, Europe, prehistoric and historic period North America), topical courses (cultural heritage management, museum studies, historic archaeology, landscape archaeology) and theory courses (history of archaeology, archaeological theory, chiefdoms, social construction of space, archaeology and racialization).

Historical archaeology also contributes to efforts of making visible those people poorly represented in the documentary record of the past, such as enslaved African Americans and Native Americans, and it helps us to appreciate their significant roles in shaping the history of the Americas. For example, the role of African Americans in building our nation's history is a central part of historical archaeology studies in North America. Such projects engage graduate and undergraduate students in examining the ways in which African Americans dealt with and persevered against past racializing ideologies, and the lessons to be learned from such studies of past racism, including possible ways of combating racialization in the present and future.

Our Department also engages in public outreach efforts, participates in the annual Illinois Archaeology Awareness program, and hosts a number of internet resources concerning public history and civic engagement in archaeology. In collaboration with the Department of African American Studies, we also host the peer reviewed Journal of African Diaspora Archaeology and Heritage (Taylor & Francis), and the African Diaspora Archaeology Networkand Newsletter. We invite you to contact the Anthropology office or any of our faculty for more information on historical archaeology, cultural heritage, landscape, and museum studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Students interested in applying for admission to our graduate program can also consult our online guidelines and forms.


For more information on our program, please contact:

Chris Fennell
Department of Anthropology
109 Davenport Hall
607 S. Mathews St.
University of Illinois
Urbana, Illinois 61801
email: cfennell@illinois.edu

Faculty in Historical Archaeology

Christopher Fennell. Ph.D., University of Virginia, 2003; J.D. Georgetown University, 1989; Associate Professor of Anthropology and Law. University Scholar. Member, Board of Directors, Society for Historical Archaeology (2012-15). Historical, prehistoric and contact periods in North America, African diaspora archaeology, cultural heritage management, regional systems analysis, stylistic and symbolic analysis of material culture, race and ethnicity theories, and consumption and production patterns; projects in historical archaeology and civic engagement.

Helaine Silverman. Ph.D., University of Texas at Austin, 1986; Professor and Director of the Collaborative for Cultural Heritage and Museum Practices. Historical, prehistoric and contact periods in the Central Andes, social construction of space and landscape archaeology, complex societies, urbanism, death studies, ethnoarchaeology, museums and representations, cultural heritage management, public archaeology, and the politics of the past.

Lisa Lucero. Ph.D., U.C.L.A., 1994; Professor. Historical, prehistoric and contact periods, complex societies, political systems, ritual and politics, water management, climate change, sustainability, Maya and Mesoamerican cultures.

Rebecca Ginsburg. Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, 2001; J.D. University of Michigan, 1987; Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture. African archaeology, plantation archaeology, architectural history, material culture, cultural landscape studies.

Susan Frankenberg. Ph.D.; Program Coordinator for Museum Studies. Cultural heritage and museums studies. Teaching courses in museum theory and practice, history and development of museums in light of world events and intellectual trends, issues of inclusion and exclusion in museums, museums as memory.

Other related faculty

Matti Bunzl. Ph.D., University of Chicago, 1998; Director, Vienna Museum; former Professor. Anthropology of Jews and Judaism, gender and sexuality, modernity; nationalism, ethnicity, history of anthropology, anthropological theory, historical ethnography, history and anthropology, Central Europe, North America.

Thomas Emerson. Ph.D., University of Wisconsin, 1995; Adjunct Professor, Director, Illinois State Archaeological Survey (formerly the Illinois Transportation Archaeological Research Program). Historical and prehistoric archaeology, French colonial period, African-American archaeology in the Midwest, Mississippian societies, eastern North America, French colonial period, cultural heritage management, hierarchical societies, ethnicity, symbolism.

Graduate Students

Our doctoral students focused on historical archaeology subjects include Kathrina Aben (MAA, Women in Archaeology Scholarship recipient), Jamie Arjona (MA, NSF Graduate Fellowship recipient), George Calfas (Ph.D. 2013, RPA), Zev Cossin (MA, NSF Graduate Fellowship recipient), Kevin Cupka Head (MA, RPA), Katherine Fay (Ph.D. 2016, RPA), Shawn Fields (Graduate College Fellowship recipient), Tatiana Niculescu (MA), Rebecca Schumann (MA, Intersect Fellowship Recipient), and Emma Verstraete (BA with Honors). Information on their projects and contact details are available online.