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Lynn Meskell's research and teaching interests encompass a broad range of fields, including an ethnography of UNESCO, heritage in South African identity and sociopolitics, gender and feminism, and heritage ethics. Meskell views contemporary archaeology as an anthropology of the past, a contextual and nuanced engagement with ancient culture that mirrors the ethnographic project.

A Professor of Anthropology, Meskell came to Stanford from Columbia University. In her fieldwork she examines the constructs of natural and cultural heritage and the related discourses of empowerment around the Kruger National Park, ten years after democracy in South Africa. She is interested in the specific national understanding of biodiversity and its relationship to development initiatives, democracy, historic claims and land restitution. Another project focuses on the social constitution of the figurine worlds at Çatalhöyük, Turkey.

Her current research investigates the role of UNESCO in terms of heritage rights, sovereignty, and international politics. As founding editor of the Journal of Social Archaeology, she has attempted to forge a vehicle for interdisciplinary dialogue, bringing together a wide range of scholars from diverse fields to constitute the editorial panel (feminists, historians, social theorists, and ethnographers). Additionally, Meskell founded Stanford Heritage Ethics, an interdisciplinary group that aims to situate their treatment of heritage firmly within the issues of ethics, politics, internationalism, conservation, development, human rights, collaborations, and indigenous issues.

Key works

The Nature of Heritage: The New South Africa. Wiley-Blackwell, 2012

Cosmopolitan Archaeologies. Editor. Duke University Press, 2009

Archaeologies of Materiality. Wiley-Blackwell, 2005

Embedding Ethics. Co-edited with Peter Pels. Berg Publishing, 2005

Object Worlds in Ancient Egypt: Material Biographies Past and Present. Berg Publishers, 2004

Companion to Social Archaeology. Co-edited with Robert Preucel. Wiley-Blackwell, 2004

Embodied Lives: Figuring Ancient Maya and Egyptian Experience. With Rosemary Joyce. Routledge Publishers, 2003

Private Life in New Kingdom Egypt. Princeton University Press, 2002

Archaeologies of Social Life: Age, Sex, Class Etcetera in Ancient Egypt. Social Archaeology Series. Wiley-Blackwell, 1999

Archaeology under Fire: Nationalism, Politics and Heritage in the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East. Routledge Publishers, 1998

Prof. Meskell in the News

March 1, 2014
A Stone Age city thrived for more than a millennium, then vanished. Ian Hodder is leading a 25-year...
December 2, 2008
Stanford Multidisciplinary TeachinStanford's archaeologists and scholars who study art or...
February 5, 2008
Worldview (WBEZ), February 5, 2008
Multidisciplinary Teaching and Research at Stanford, Fall 2006
Atlantic Monthly, January 2001
Intercontinental Cry, September 14, 2007


  • Archaeological Theory
  • çatalhöyük Figurines
  • Conservation
  • Egyptian Archaeology
  • Ethnography
  • Gender, Feminism and Embodiment
  • Heritage Ethics and Rights
  • Identity and Politics
  • South African Heritage
  • UNESCO and World Heritage

Contact information


B.A. (Hons), University of Sydney, 1994
Ph.D., University of Cambridge, 1997