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My research and fieldwork generally focus on the archaeology of the more recent past, particularly around the Atlantic. My specialties include interdisciplinary material culture research, historical/industrial archaeology, and archaeometallurgy. My work is focused on processes of production & questions of adaptation and innovation, using tools and theories from archaeology, engineering (materials science), science and technology studies (STS), and anthropology. Encompassing these fields, my primary research interests are in the craft & production of materials, the transfer of technology and technical knowledge, and cross-craft, cross-industry, and multicultural sites of production over time .
In my archaeological fieldwork, I am focused on how these processes are manifested in colonial situations and in pre-Industrial Revolution (early modern) contexts - and how the resulting archaeological histories of these periods can recast our progressive, modern, and Eurocentric notions of technological change, human-machine/material relations, and technical sophistication. I conduct fieldwork in North America and the Caribbean, though my archaeometallurgical specialty also allows me to pose these questions in relation to metals from other areas of the ancient world, such as Latin America, Western Europe, and the Mediterranean.
In engineering, I lead a multi-disciplinary effort with the Material Matters Research Group, an assembly of graduate student, faculty, and undergraduates who are conducting research with or are contributing to the research analysis of archaeological materials using traditional and experimental techniques from materials sciences, engineering, and related disciplines (e.g. geosciences, chemistry). Though I am interested in the theories of production surround all inorganic materials, my expertise is in metals. Copper and iron mining, and associated products, sites, and the question of innovation are the current focus of my archaeometallurgical research.
In archaeology, my other main area of interest (both in theory and practice) is in applying multi-sited ethnography to archaeology. Having conducted a multi-sited archaeological study of Greene family colonial ironworking as part of my dissertation, I am currently extending this research orientation to other sites in the Northeast and in the Caribbean in relation to Greene Farm, where I am the archaeology director of a long-term collaborative research project see Greene Farm Archaeology Project website. The Greene Farm site is home to over 5,000 years of occupational history, including one of the only undisturbed 17th-century domestic archaeological deposits in the region. The extraordinary materials excavated from this area of structures are reshaping what we know about the relationships between groups of people, technologies, space, and material culture during the early colonial period, a time of adaptation, innovation, production, and conflict.
I am also involved in ongoing archaeological projects on the Caribbean island of Montserrat, the Anglo-American Antiquarians project (addressing the early history of the discipline), and in multiple local heritage and archaeology community-based survey and preservation projects. Additionally, I am interested in multimedia approaches to archaeology, which complements the continuous public outreach and preservation components of my work. Recent examples include my editorial involvement with the weblog Archaeolog, the creation of a digital multimedia context form (Archaeotechnics) in collaboration with colleagues from archaeology, computer science, and the Brown scholarly technology group, and also completion of my edited volume, Experience, Modes of Engagement, Archaeology (Archaeologies, Dec. 2009).
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