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Barbara Voss

barb voss

Barbara Voss

Ph.D. Berkeley, 2002
Research Interests: 
historical archaeology, archaeology of colonialism, Spanish-colonial archaeology, Chinese diaspora archaeology, postcolonial theory, gender and sexuality studies, queer theory, public archaeology, community-based research, California archaeology


Stanford Faculty Page

I am a historical archaeologist who studies the dynamics and outcomes of transnational cultural encounters: How did diverse groups of people, who previously had little knowledge of each other, navigate the challenges and opportunities of abrupt and sustained interactions caused by colonialism, conflict, and migration? I approach this question through fine-grained, site-specific investigations coupled with broad-scale comparative and collaborative research programs. My earlier work investigated Spanish colonization of the Americas, an area of research that I continue to be involved in. My current research focuses on 19th century migration from southern China, which I am investigating through four interrelated projects: (1) the Market Street Chinatown Archaeology Project (2002-present), a community-based research program developed to study and interpret the history and archaeology of San Jose’s first Chinese community; (2) the interdisciplinary Chinese Railroad Workers of North America Project (2012-present), for which I serve as Director of Archaeology;  (3) Research Cooperation on Home Cultures of 19th Century Overseas Chinese, a collaboration with Wuyi University to develop ethnohistoric and archaeological research on qiaoxiang (home villages) in Kaiping County, Guangdong; and (4) the Arboretum Chinese Labor Quarters Project (2018-present), a study of historic Chinese workers’ residences on Stanford campus lands.  Throughout, my research is guided by a deep commitment to public archaeology and collaborative research. Additionally, I continue to work 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.

Selected Articles

2019.  The Archaeology of Serious Games: Play and Pragmatism in Victorian-era Dining. American Antiquity84 (1): 26–47

2018.  The Archaeology of Precarious Lives: Chinese Railroad Workers in Nineteenth-Century North America. Current Anthropology 58(3)

2018.  With J. R. Kennedy, Tan J., and L. W. Ng. The Archaeology of Home: Qiaoxiang and non-state actors in the archaeology of the Chinese diaspora. American Antiquity on-line First View.

2018  “Every element of womanhood with which to make life a curse or blessing”: Missionary Women’s Accounts of Chinese American Women’s Lives in Nineteenth-century Pre-Exclusion California. Journal of Asian American Studies 21(1):105-134.

2015.  What’s new? Rethinking ethnogenesis in the archaeology of colonialism. American Antiquity 80(4):655-670.

2015.  Towards a transpacific archaeology of the modern world. International Journal of Historical Archaeology. Online first: ISSN 1092-7697.

2015.  The historical experience of labor: Archaeological contributions to interdisciplinary research on Chinese railroad workers. Historical Archaeology 49(1):4-23.

2012.  Curation as research: a case study in orphaned and underreported archaeological collections. Archaeological Dialogues 19(2) 145–169.

2012.  Status and ceramics in Spanish colonial archaeology. Historical Archaeology 46(2):39-54.

2010.  Matter out of time: the paradox of the 'contemporary past'. Archaeologies: Journal of the World Archaeological Congress 6(1):181-192.

2008.  Gender, race, and labor in the archaeology of the Spanish colonial Americas. Current Anthropology 49(5):861-897.

2008.  Poor people in silk shirts: dress and ethnogenesis in Spanish-colonial San Francisco. Journal of Social Archaeology 8(3):404-432.

2008.   Sexuality studies in archaeology. Annual Review of Anthropology 37(1):317-336.

2008.  With R. Allen. Overseas Chinese archaeology: historical foundations, current reflections, and new directions. Historical Archaeology 42(3):5-28.

2008.  Between the household and the world-system: social collectivity and community agency in Overseas Chinese archaeology. Historical Archaeology 42(3):37-52.

2008.  Domesticating imperialism: sexual politics and the archaeology of empire. American Anthropologist 110(2):191-203.

2007.  Image, text, object: interpreting documents and artifacts as 'labors of representation'. Historical Archaeology 41(4):144-168.

2005.  From Casta to Californio: social identity and the archaeology of culture contact. American Anthropologist 107(3):461-474.

2005.  The archaeology of Overseas Chinese communities. World Archaeology 37(3):424-439.

2000.  Feminisms, queer theories, and the archaeological study of past sexualities. World Archaeology 32(2):180-192.