Personal and Academic Background
Born in Haifa, Israel, I was raised in the USA and attended the State University of New York at Binghamton as an undergraduate. Courses in Anthropology grabbed my attention, combined my interests in human potential for change with scholarly resources and engaging methodologies; several professors were supportive, for reasons that were not clear to me at the time especially since my passions came out more clearly via the student association and social activism then classes.
Following one strand of broad studies at Binghamton, my MA and PhD in Anthropology came from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Never losing wide-ranging interests in archaeology, cultural anthropology, and biological anthropology as well as politics, travel, and history, the central focus of my research and teaching continues to focus on material culture and cultural landscapes organized by the scholarly critique of racism, a negation of the assumption that some are destined for limitations because of biology or birth. Originally I framed the investigation into the past as a critique of racism, to open up understandings of social identity as socially constructed by active agents within their political economic context; recently social justice as entered anthropological discourse and that concept, revealing hidden histories and exposing the potential of people, fits better. After learning the craft teaching as a teaching assistant at the University of Massachusetts, I taught at the UMass Continuing Education program and briefly at Assumption College and Clark University. I have been on the faculty at New College of Florida since 1997 (then New College of the University of South Florida). I live in Sarasota with my wife and three children, and a Siamese cat.
New College is a teaching-intensive honors liberal arts college and I offer a wide range of courses in archaeology and cultural anthropology as well as leading projects in community service learning for historic preservation and public archaeology focused on issues of race, class, and gender. The teaching is the priority but I have tried to sustain a research profile and have a deep commitment to public outreach and community-based approaches for anthropology.
I find myself publishing in Historical Archaeology, the archaeology of the recent past, because my interests focus on how present social inequalities developed and are maintained. My undergraduate training was in four-field anthropology, focused on cultural anthropology but my field experience started with archaeological surveys in the corn fields of New York’s Southern Tier. I turned to Historical Archaeology in New England and explored historic cultural landscapes in terms of materiality and power relations. Continuing with Historical Archaeology, my dissertation research moved to the Middle East where I spent a great deal of time and effort on Ottoman period artifacts and landscapes, mostly in Israel but also on Cyprus and with interest in Egypt, Turkey, and Greece. The research into the past never was limited to what was; employing the dual lens of ethnography and archaeology for the intersection of present and past. After a few years in Sarasota, I began field projects in southwest Florida, hoping to balance Florida and eastern Mediterranean research. The opportunity to contribute to a search for a maroon community ignited the strands in my scholarship. Shifting my energies to Sarasota and Manatee, I have delved deeper in the contemporary significance of the past for the present.
Believing working at a public college creates a responsibility to the public, I offer public lectures on general archaeology and heritage issues, roughly divided between the Middle East and Florida, and occasionally on current events. I have organized outreach events for community groups and educational programs for elementary schoolchildren. The ethics of civil engagement unites my research and teaching as I insist that students recognize the public involvement possible with any archaeological or ethnographic endeavor. That initial ethic of responsibility to the public has grown to community engagements, with recognition of the diversity of communities especially when focusing on heritage. .
At this point of my career, now a Professor of Anthropology, my scholarship can be seen as anthropological heritage studies, research at the intersection of the past and present, focused on the politics of the past and their implications for social identities. My publications includes employing anthropology for the study of sultans and fellahim, Zionism and Palestinian nationalism, pioneers and indigenous peoples, workers and city founders, self-emancipated Africans and American expansionism in an anthropological consideration of social power. The dynamics of power, from the domination seen in the imperial imprint on cultural landscapes to the resistance through social movements have occupied my thinking on cultural history, heritage, and material culture. The tropes of research focus on people in motion with a keen sense of power relations, frameworks for histories of social interactions for the modern period. Along the way, I have published commentaries on the marketing of heritage, the intersection of archaeology and politics, and critical pedagogy.
Articles and Chapters Published in
New College Public Archaeology Laboratory
In 2008, New College of Florida committed to building a public archaeology facility at the center of the Bay Front campus, the design of the building and the programming is student-centered, focused on collaborative approaches to the study of the past. To highlight archaeological insights into the region and the state, since 2009, I co-sponsored with Time Sifters, the local chapter of the Florida Anthropological Society, an annual lecture series supported by the Florida Humanities Council. My most significant research role is as lead archaeologist for Looking for Angola, the search for the material remains of an early nineteenth-century maroon community in Manatee County and have historic preservation projects ongoing in Sarasota. NCPAL, opened in 2010, is focused on preserving regional heritage, confronting race, and exploring ways that heritage can be part of emancipatory community-building. As Director of NCPAL, I have nurtured its community service-learning and civic engagement program.
New College Service
Beyond typical committee service on campus, I have served as the college’s representative to the University Press of Florida Editorial Board. I am a member of the United Faculty of Florida, and have served on its bargaining team, for a semester as chief negotiator, as well as a year as chapter president.
When students first asked me to sponsor a Hillel for the campus, I said no but then they convinced me. As faculty advisor I try to ensure productive programming and provide support for the student leadership. With screening of innovative films, lectures, and lots of meals, the New College Hillel is now part of the Hillels of the Suncoast. I am proud of its positive reputation on campus, its contributions to the local Jewish community, and to tikkun olam.