Lynn Meskell is the Shirley and Leonard Ely Professor of Humanities and Sciences in the Department of Anthropology at Stanford University, and AD White Professor-at-Large at Cornell University (2019-2015). She is also Honorary Professor in the School of Geography, Archaeology and Environmental Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. She is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. Over the past twenty years she has been awarded grants and fellowships including those from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the Australian Research Council, the American Academy in Rome, the School of American Research, Oxford University and Cambridge University. She is the founding editor of the Journal of Social Archaeology. Lynn has broad theoretical interests including socio-politics, archaeological ethics, global heritage, materiality, as well as feminist and postcolonial theory. Lynn’s earlier research examined natural and cultural heritage in South Africa, the archaeology of figurines and burial in Neolithic Turkey and social life in New Kingdom Egypt.
Recently she conducted an 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. Employing archival and ethnographic analysis, her new book A Future in Ruins: UNESCO, World Heritage, and the Dream of Peace (2018, OUP New York), reveals UNESCO’s early forays into a one-world archaeology and its later commitments to global heritage. Some other recent books and edited collections include The Nature of Culture: The New South Africa (2011, Blackwells) and Global Heritage: A Reader (2015, Blackwells). Her new fieldwork explores monumental regimes of research and preservation around World Heritage sites in India and how diverse actors and agencies address the needs of living communities. Given the sheer scale and complexity of archaeological heritage in India, no nation presents a more fraught and compelling array of challenges to preserving its past.