Lost and Found: Orphaned Archaeological Collections and Bringing Them Home

An important part of archaeology is recording the context materials are excavated from. Sometimes collections get disorganized or lost after a project concludes and become unusable to researchers due to the lack of contextual information. Dr. Barbara Voss’ research has addressed this issue of collections getting left on the proverbial doorstep and begun to outline potential practices to find homes for “orphaned collections”. Since the early 2000s Dr. Voss has adopted the Market Street Chinatown Project and has dedicated time to figuring out ways to make that site and collection useful to researchers once again.  Her work in giving the collection a home has enabled her and others to address questions about the daily life, such as food consumption, and social roles of Chinese immigrants in California. Join us as we talk about the significance of the collection itself and importance of addressing orphaned archaeological collections.

Our guest is no Mrs. Hannigan.

Dr. Barbara Voss is an associate professor at Stanford University. She earned her Ph.D. in anthropology at University of California, Berkeley in 2002. From 1986 to 1992 she worked as an archaeology field technician for Archaeological/Historical Consultants in Oakland, CA and from 1992 to 1996 she was Senior Staff Archaeologist with Woodward Clyde Consultants in Oakland CA . Dr. Voss’ research program is centered on two primary interests: historical archaeology and sexuality studies. Within historical archaeology, her research focuses on the dynamics and outcomes of transnational cultural encounters in the Americas. This research includes ongoing investigations of the Spanish colonization of the Americas, including (since 1992) field and laboratory research at the Presidio of San Francisco. Dr. Voss has expanded this work on cultural encounters into the archaeology of overseas Chinese communities in the 19th and early 20th centuries. In this capacity she serves as Principal Investigator of the Market Street Chinatown Archaeology Project, a community-based research program developed to study and interpret the history and archaeology of San Jose’s first Chinese community. The second focus of her research is sexuality studies in archaeology. Dr. Voss strives to generate a productive dialogue between queer studies and archaeology, and to develop rigorous methodologies that support the study of sexuality and gender through archaeological evidence. Dr. Voss is guided by a deep commitment to public archaeology and collaborative research.



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