Current Projects


Campbell FactoryThis project, funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation and the Wenner Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, analyzes the archaeological remains of shell bead manufacturing centers New Jersey between 1750 and 1900 CE. At these sites, Euro-Americans produced shell beads for export to Native American consumers on the Great Plains. They employed workers from diverse backgrounds including Euro-American women and African Americans (both enslaved and free). How did interactions on the borders of an expanding American state impact industrialization in New Jersey? What factors led to the successes and failures of making and selling products to Indigenous consumers? Who benefited from settler-capitalist appropriation of a traditional Native craft? And how did distant Native consumers use Jersey-made beads to achieve their own social and political goals?  

I will examine changes over time between production and consumption in order to determine the factors that influenced the rise and fall of an American industry. Shell beads have been made in North America for thousands of years, but by the American Revolution, Irish and Dutch settlers in northern New Jersey became the major exporters of beads for the fur trade. Combined with analysis of existing museum collections, excavations in New Jersey will target "proto-industrial" and "industrial" shell bead manufacturing sites to gather archaeological data in the form of debris, waste, bead blanks, tools, and finished beads. These will be examined along with historical accounts, factory ledgers, and fur trade records to track elements of "industrialization" such as efficiencies, technologies, standardization, and scale of output. Archaeological, historical, ethnographic, and portraiture data will be used to track broad regional trends in Native uses of shell beads throughout the 19th century. How were beads worn by different tribes, genders, and ages? In what contexts, and to what end?

Campbell Factory Interior


AsCafeI am beginning to develop a project that asks how the liberalization of European trade transformed existing inequalities in Iceland. Specifically, did the dissolution of a Danish trade monopoly underpin socioeconomic hierarchies or undermine the existing order after 1786? As a marginal environment at the physical periphery of Europe, Iceland brings the transformative properties of colonialism and capitalism into sharp relief. After 1400, mercantile intersections brought novel forms of material culture to Iceland, motivating the production of export commodities such as cod and wool within a manorial political economy. In 1786, the Danish Crown dissolved a trade monopoly which had limited exchange with Danish citizens at regulated ports. The stated goal of the monopoly’s dissolution was to bring relief to the struggling rural countryside. During this time, the construction of class identities implicate dichotomies of colonial discourse. With this in mind, an archaeological study of imported commodities – or lack thereof – speak to economic conditions as well as personal subjectivities. Did liberalization of trade augment preexisting inequalities, both as economic realities (such as poverty and inequality) and as social relations? Or could new strategies of accumulation and modes of negotiating class identity rupture previous structures? To answer these questions, I hope to track when, where, and which imported commodities are found in elite and non-elite household assemblages and compare this to variables of wealth and farm productivity in the Hegranes region in northern Iceland.