Lynn Meskell

Lynn Meskell
University of Pennsylvania | UP · Department of Anthropology

PhD Cambridge

About

141
Publications
73,478
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4,711
Citations
Additional affiliations
September 2005 - June 2017
Stanford University
Position
  • Professor (Full)

Publications

Publications (141)
Article
This article recounts an untold chapter in the life of archaeologist Froelich Rainey, specifically his ambition to collaborate with Soviet scholars and deploy his personal networks to foster mutual understanding across the Iron Curtain during the height of the Cold War. The picaresque and implausible life of Rainey, who entered wartime Vienna in th...
Article
This article charts one episode in the history of archaeological field science following the end of World War II and its place within a nascent military‐industrial‐academic complex. It is an account of how archaeological innovation was tied to, and developed directly out of, US nuclear ambition and the leveraging of “peaceful” atomic research as we...
Technical Report
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This White Paper provides a legal analysis to align the 1972 World Heritage Convention and the UNESCO Constitution and its commitment to human rights and fundamental freedoms. It sets out recommendations for UNESCO, the World Heritage governing bodies, and States Parties to ensure properties on the World Heritage List and Tentative Lists are not si...
Article
This article charts the nascent development agendas for archaeological heritage and tourism at Petra in Jordan. We begin with the early internationalism of UNESCO and its participation programme for Petra followed by the restructuring of American foreign policy interests to embed heritage tourism within USAID projects. A technocratic tourism-as-ass...
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This paper examines the modes of persuasion deployed throughout the decision-making processes of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee. Through long-term ethnographic, archival and quantitative research, we reveal how the lofty goals of global conservation are elided by national interests and alliance-building. What unfolds in annual meetings is a ra...
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This article examines the trajectory and fate of Delhi’s Imperial Capital Cities nomination, submitted to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2015 for inscription on the World Heritage List. I employ the dossier and events surrounding its withdrawal to reveal the political imbrications of urban conservat...
Research
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Report presents a unique discovery of a plaster head installation found within Building 132, in the North Area at Catalhoyuk (Central Turkey).
Article
From the 1930s to the late 1970s, American archaeologists pursued a paired agenda of science and salvage such that their focus on logical positivism converged with US foreign policy towards international technical assistance. River basin salvage archaeology, pioneered in the US by the Tennessee Valley Authority and exported to the Middle East in th...
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Since March 2015, the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen has had devastating consequences for the country, its people and its rich cultural heritage. This article traces the responses of the world’s foremost multilateral body concerned with heritage promotion and protection, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization...
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India’s BJP government headed by Hindutva icon Narendra Modi came to power in 2014 with a campaign slogan: ‘Toilets first, temples second.’ Drawing on Gandhi’s philosophy and legacy some 150 years after his birth, Swachh Bharat or Clean India is a monumental project with sweeping programs, propaganda, and political agendas. Gandhi famously said tha...
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Archaeological materialities and imaginaries have been deeply entwined in colonial rivalries and struggles for self‐determination that have lasting legacies across the Middle East. Neoimperial ambitions and conflict over territory, religion, oil, and antiquities have similarly been accompanied by heritage claims and the rhetoric of high cultural hu...
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This article focuses on the ways that threatened heritage sites are caught up in complex deliberations of UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee around inscription to the List of World Heritage in Danger. Through quantitative and qualitative analyses of Committee decision-making from 1979–2018, we observe geopolitical inequity and bureaucratic inefficac...
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This paper traces the cultural missions and salvage archaeology programs along the Euphrates River around Raqqa from the 1950s onwards. We suggest that the varied investments from international expeditions, conservation programs, and technical assistance in Syria have an important, untold history that is relevant to recent developments and conflict...
Article
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Following the devastation of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul by the Islamic State (IS), UNESCO launched a project to ‘Revive the Spirit of Mosul’. This article critically reflects on this UNESCO-led project, drawing on 47 interviews with Syrians and Iraqis, as well as documenting the implications of UNESCO’s efforts in earlier (post-)conflict heri...
Article
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Between the 1960s and 1980s, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) launched a number of international salvage campaigns at the behest of its member states, the most notable being the Nubian Monuments Campaign. Saving ancient monuments and discovering archaeological sites in Egypt and Sudan was viewed as a lan...
Chapter
Heritage is not an acquisition, a possession that grows and solidifies; rather it is an unstable assemblage of faults, fissures and heterogeneous layers that threaten the fragile inheritor from within and from underneath. © 2019 selection and editorial matter, Sheila Watson, Amy Jane Barnes and Katy Bunning; individual chapters, the contributors.
Book
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In 1945, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was founded as an intergovernmental agency aimed at fostering peace, humanitarianism, and intercultural understanding. Its mission stemmed from a European organization called the International Committee on Intellectual Co-operation, founded by such prominent figu...
Article
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The purpose of the UNESCO World Heritage Convention is to protect the global merit good of cultural and natural heritage of outstanding universal value for humanity. Many observers, however, have suggested that this international organization is subject to politicization as the selection process of sites on the World Heritage List is increasingly d...
Research
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from Archaeologies of Memory Edited by Ruth M.Van Dyke and Susan E. Alcock
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Globalization and world-making projects, like the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage program, have changed the stakes for particular heritage sites. Through processes of greater interdependence and connectivity, specific sites are transformed into transactional commodities with exchange values t...
Article
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UNESCO World Heritage regions are historically constructed categories that do not easily map onto global geographies, yet they still continue to have important political and ethical implications in the international arena. Since their inception, regional categories have been at the heart of debates over global representation and equity in the World...
Chapter
Cosmopolitanism describes a wide variety of important positions in moral and sociopolitical philosophy brought together by the belief that we are all citizens of the world who have responsibilities to others, regardless of political affiliation. As archeologists and heritage experts, our obligations may entail addressing the political and economic...
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This article analyzes whether emerging nations are extending their influence across the UNESCO World Heritage Committee and, if so, how this affects decision-making processes concerning the inscription of sites on the World Heritage List. We use both quantitative and qualitative approaches to identify patterns in decision-making processes regarding...
Article
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Why have deliberations over World Heritage sites become such a volatile arena for the performance of international tensions, new political alliances and challenges to global cooperation? Across UN platforms, the failures of multilateralism are increasingly evident. We suggest that decision-making within the World Heritage Committee is no different...
Article
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Deliberations over World Heritage designation increasingly provide a platform for new political alliances, international tensions and challenges to global cooperation. How has this situation arisen in UNESCO, an organization dedicated to fostering peace, tolerance and international co-operation? Since we now face an ever more interconnected world a...
Article
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Neolithic animals comprise more than half of the total figurine assemblage at Çatalhöyük (7400–6000 cal. BC), with some 741 horns and 449 quadrupeds, as opposed to only 187 human figurines. Many figurines, whether of wild cattle, boar or deer, are small, detailed, finely modeled and demonstrate anatomical knowledge and specificity. Their miniature...
Article
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With the burgeoning research into global heritage, particularly in the work of UNESCO, this paper discusses recent developments and implications of decisions taken by the World Heritage Committee in their implementation of the 1972 Convention. While the World Heritage programme is experiencing a fiscal crisis, significant challenges also stem from...
Chapter
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The authors attempt a reconciliation of apparently disparate evidence types relating to the body at Çatalhöyük, Turkey (7400–6000 cal BC): palaeodietary reconstruction through stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analysis, and body imagery as represented in the figurines, buildings and burials. Approaches to the body tend to focus upon evidence confi...
Article
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In this article, we argue for a multi-dimensional research strategy incorporating material, social and phenomenological analysis in the study of figurines and other human effigies. We call this approach ‘following the material’. To illustrate, we examine two case studies: figurines from the Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük (Turkey) and human effigies f...
Article
Examining a wide range of archaeological data, and using it to explore issues such as the sexual body, mind/body dualism, body modification, and magical practices, Lynn Meskell and Rosemary Joyce offer a new approach to the Ancient Egyptian and Mayan understanding of embodiment.
Article
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The title, States of Conservation, deliberately references the two “states” that now occupy critical yet oppositional nodes within UNESCO’s 1972 Convention and its conservation agenda. It recalls the State of Conservation (SOC) reports commissioned by the World Heritage Center in conjunction with its Advisory Bodies that relay the condition of Worl...
Article
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The year 2012 marked the fortieth anniversary of UNESCO’s 1972 Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage. It remains the major international instrument for safeguarding the world’s heritage. The Convention’s most significant feature is its integration of the concepts of nature conservation and preservation of c...
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For 20 years, archaeological approaches to the body have tended to focus upon evidence confined to specific areas of expertise. Such scholarly separations are understandable due to archaeological specialisations in osteology or figurines, burial practices or stable isotope ratios. Here, we provide a multi-stranded data analysis of the archaeologica...
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In December 2000, a World Indigenous Peoples Forum was held in conjunction with the 24th session of UNESCO's World Heritage Committee in Cairns, Australia. Representatives from Australia, Canada, and New Zealand harnessed the momentum of these events and their location to propose the formation of a new committee, the World Heritage Indigenous Peopl...
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The author examines the connection between terrorist acts in Egypt against tourists from economically developed countries (Western Europe, USA, Japan) and policies of Egypt's government that attempt to prevent contacts between the tourists, who visit mainly global heritage places, and the locals. Western international organizations counterpose the...
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This article presents a study of the zoomorphic figurine assemblage from Neolithic Çatalhöyük in central Turkey. Figurine manufacture, depositional condition and contexts of discard are discussed, to find that their fragmentation seems related to fabrication methods and use rather than intentional breakage. We show animal figurines deriving mostly...
Article
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This paper describes new developments and deliberations at the 35th Session of the World Heritage Committee in Paris in June 2011. One of the most striking aspects of this year's meetings was the vocal challenge to the expert status and authority of the Advisory Bodies (ICOMOS and IUCN) by the Committee in making recommendations for site inscriptio...
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This paper documents some recent international interludes in the Mapungubwe mining saga. Specifically, I outline the official position taken by South Africa at the 35th Session of the World Heritage Committee in Paris in 2011, with regard to decisions taken by UNESCO in 2010 pertaining to Mapungubwe's buffer zones and imminent threats from the Vele...
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Comparison of two Turkish Neolithic sites with rich symbolism, Çatalhöyük and Göbekli, suggests widespread and long-lasting themes in the early settled communities of the region. Three major symbolic themes are identified. The first concerns an overall concern with the penis, human and animal, that allows us to speak of a phallocentrism in contrast...
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This paper discusses the efficacy of applying a framework of universal human rights to resolve heritage conflicts. It considers the pitfalls and potentials in particular heritage settings for both archaeologists and the constituencies we seek to represent. A distinction is made throughout the paper between invoking universal human rights, as oppose...
Article
Archaeologists are accustomed to responding to absence, to reading the spaces and bygone traces of materials and practices, as well as assembling the social worlds of people now departed. The often haunting fragmentary remains that are bequeathed to us, the palimpsest and the void itself - plus the material and immaterial methodologies employed to...
Article
The aim of this chapter is to situate the symbolism and ritual at Çatalhöyük in the wider context of eastern Turkey and the Middle East. The rich symbolism at the site has already incited a wide range of interpretations of the site and its earlier and contemporary parallels to the east (Mellaart 1967; Clark 1977; Gimbutas 1989; Cauvin 2000; Özdoğan...
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While the rhetoric of human rights is now globally pervasive, the reality of rights implementation patently lags behind and violations continue to escalate worldwide. An examination of recent books demonstrates that rights talk occupies an increasingly central place in all subfields of anthropology. Problematically, anthropologists are excessively...
Article
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This paper examines the materializing practices of bodies at the Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük. We focus on the clay and stone figurine corpus (over 1,800 total, with over 1,000 of those being diagnostic), but also consider other media such as wall paintings and sculptured features, as well as the skeletal evidence. This paper is the first attempt t...
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This paper was largely written by the General Manager for People and Conservation in South African National Parks (SANParks), with a contribution by an anthropologist studying the post-apartheid transition of Kruger National Park. Our purpose is to engage in an ongoing discussion aimed at equitable best practice and community empowerment in social...
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Taking 'tradition' as the process of 'handing down', which encompasses the ideas of duration, continuity, practice and ritual, this paper examines the Neolithic lifeworld at Catalhoyuk with particular attention to the figurine corpus and plastered installations. Specifically, I focus on two material preoccupations that have intense signification ac...
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Since the democratic dispensation in South Africa, heritage as a category has been necessarily framed by the specter of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, its place in wider society, the general underpinnings of amnesty, forgiveness and the desire to move forward as a nation. Human rights activism, truth commissions, and juridical proceedings...
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The corpus of figurines from Çatalhöyük has attracted the attention of diverse audiences but there has been an overwhelming focus on a selection of female figurines, many of which lack exact provenience. Excavation from 1961 to 1965 yielded more mundane examples classifiable as anthropomorphic, zoomorphic and abbreviated forms. New work attempts to...
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As an intellectual figure in South Africa, J. M. Coetzee has consistently engaged with the politics of the past, particularly the contemporary ethical ramifications of the colonial past, alongside the more recent and bitter history of oppression under apartheid. As archaeologists, we aim to excavate these engagements through his novels and essays,...
Chapter
TaxonomiesIssues of Power, Class, and StatusRace and EthnicityGender and FeminismThe Politics of LocationConclusions References
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Spatial ScienceLandscapeBordersDiasporaUtopiaGlobalizationConclusions References
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The Social in ArchaeologyTemporalitySpatialityMaterialityConclusions References
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Book
The Companion to Social Archaeology is the first scholarly work to explore the encounter of social theory and archaeology over the past two decades. • Grouped into four sections - Knowledges, Identities, Places, and Politics - each of which is prefaced with a review essay that contextualizes the history and developments in social archaeology and re...
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IntroductionCollectivizing MemoryHousing Memories and Material BiographiesFestive Practice RememberedDisjunctive Memories: the MemnoniaReferences Cited
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The Thing IsSouth African DetourAcknowledgmentsReferences
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Series Editors' Preface.Acknowledgments.Notes on Contributors.List of Figures.List of Tables.Part I: Introduction:.1. Contextualizing an Archaeology of Asia: Miriam T. Stark (University of Hawai'i, Manoa).Part II: Contexts of Asian Archaeology:.2. Some National, Regional, and Political Uses of Archaeology in East and Southeast Asia: Ian Glover (Ins...
Book
Drawing on social theory and offering numerous case studies, Archaeologies of Materiality is one of the first books to explore materiality across time and space. Demonstrates the saliency of materiality by linking it to concepts of landscape, technology, embodiment, ritual, and heritage. Offers archaeological case studies ranging from prehistoric t...
Article
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Lynn identifies three critical discussion that framed the Stanford workshop. First, the language of the code, which she feels should reflect our acknowledgement that archaeologists are not the primary stakeholders for most situations and using core values instead of codification as a starting point. Second, the recognition of particular histories a...
Article
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In this article I take my lead from the sentiments expressed by one of my colleagues in South Africa National Parks - a young, black woman who seeks a radical revisioning of archaeology and anthropology in the new South Africa. She wants to see archaeology labour in the service of a newly emergent and more equitable nation, to perform a remedial an...
Chapter
In the past few decades we have witnessed an emergent debate about the relationships between history and memory. Underlying this debate is a critical ‘disturbance not just of the relationship between history as objective and scientific, and memory as subjective and personal, but of history itself and its promises’.1 What is increasingly being conte...
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This paper challenges a straightforward notion of multiculturalism as always offering an inherently positive way forward in thinking about South African heritage, specifically in its guise for negotiating difference in cultural and legal spheres. The promises and pitfalls of a multicultural approach to South African heritage are outlined with speci...
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Este artículo esboza las posibilidades para una práctica mixta, a la que yo denomino etnografía arqueológica, que enlaza la arqueología y antropología sociocultural. Mi trabajo de campo se ha realizado en los límites del Parque Nacional Kruger con individuos de la comunidad de Malatji, y también con ecologistas sociales, guardas del parque, intérpr...