LYNN MESKELL (2019-2025) is the Shirley R. and Leonard W. Ely, Jr. Professor of Humanities and Sciences in the Department of Anthropology at Stanford University. She is an archaeologist and anthropologist whose work has transformed thinking on the way human society is shaped by a material world of bodies, places, things, and the ruins of the past. She is a recognized leader in fields that range from the archaeology of Egypt and Neolithic Anatolia to the ethnographic study of global heritage institutions. Her work thus moves easily across multiple fields of study, drawing together an interest in human lives and material assemblages to define new areas of investigation from social archaeology to heritage ethics and archaeological ethnography.
Meskell recently conducted a long-term institutional ethnography of UNESCO World Heritage, tracing the politics of governance and sovereignty and the subsequent implications for multilateral diplomacy, international conservation, and heritage rights. Her current fieldwork explores the monumental regimes of archaeology and conservation in India, underlining the fraught and compelling array of challenges the modern nation faces to preserve its past. Given the sheer scale of archaeological heritage coupled with pressing socio-economic imperatives, her work traces how a diverse set of actors and agencies also attempt to address the needs of living communities.
Meskell’s books include A Future in Ruins: UNESCO, World Heritage and the Dream of Peace (Oxford University Press, 2018); The Nature of Heritage: The New South Africa (Blackwell, 2012); Object Worlds in Ancient Egypt: Material Biographies Past and Present (Berg, 2004); Private Life in New Kingdom Egypt (Princeton, 2002); and Archaeologies of Social Life: Age, Sex, Class Etcetera in Ancient Egypt (Blackwell 1999). She is the founding editor of the Journal of Social Archaeology.
Meskell is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities (2017) and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the American University of Rome (2016). Since 2004, she has been an Honorary Professor at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa. She has also served as a visiting scholar at an array of global institutions, including Oxford University, Pantheon Sorbonne, Jawaharlal Nehru University, the American Academy in Rome, and the School of American Research.