The Politics of Heritage

My research investigates the politics of heritage.  I do this through a combination of ethnographic, activist, archaeological field methods, archival, and discourse methods. My research is multi-sited and global in scope. I have worked in north and central America, Northeast Asia, Western Australia, and western Europe. 

Fieldwork in the Altai Mountains, 2006

I have published on a  variety of topics. My book, Critical Theory and the Anthropology of Heritage Landscapes (2017), in the Cultural Heritage Studies series at University Press of Florida,  presents research experiences as an ethnographer, archaeologist, and heritage expert that served as touchstones to examine the sociopolitical and historical contexts of heritage landscapes. 

Book cover photograph by ROA – activist artist and muralist from Belgium. The photograph was taken in the Pilbara region in Western Australia.


I have three overlapping and intersecting research projects: First, since 2011, I have conducted multi-sited research on heritage, communities, and places in extractive zones. I define extractive zones as places where industries, communities, and ecologies converge. I am interested in how heritage work is enacted and brokered by different actors – the corporation, the state, communities, or activists. How does heritage work restrict, exclude, support, or extend political reach in extractive contexts? Whether it is communities occupying protest camps to protect cultural resources or scientists mobilizing the policy process to protect environmentally sensitive places, in each case, the work of heritage is revealed: heritage is taken up to make claims, gain legitimacy, and shape policy. 

Second, I work with a multi-agency and transdisciplinary team – and partner with Tribal communities on an NSF CNH2 project, Convergence Research: Bridging Knowledge Systems and Expertise for Understanding the Dynamics of a Contaminated Tribal Landscape System.My work is moving toward understanding issues of revitalization and repair, and how to work as an ally and partner with communities.

Third, I work on the culture of higher education. See my page to learn more.

I am a first-generation scholar. I received my undergraduate degree in anthropology from the University of California Berkeley (BA) and my MS and Ph.D. from the University of Oregon, where I was a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow. Before accepting the Social Sciences Department position at Michigan Technological University, I was a Postdoctoral Scholar at Stanford University, sponsored by the Stanford Archaeology Center, Department of Anthropology, and Woods Institute for the Environment.

Associate Dean of STEM Equity and Associate Professor of Anthropology