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1987 test excavations on the headlands in Pacific Grove, California.

Download Barbara L. Voss curriculum vitae HERE

Dr. Barbara Voss is a historical archaeologist specializing in field research and material culture studies. She is a Professor in Anthropology at Stanford University, and where she is also affiliated with the Stanford Archaeology Center; the Program on Asian American Studies; the Center for Comparative Studies of Race and Ethnicity; Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; and the Program on Urban Studies.

Prior to graduate study, during 1987–1996 Dr. Voss was employed in private-sector cultural resource management, conducting prehistoric and historic archaeological studies and environmental reviews for state and federal agencies, private landholders, and development projects throughout California. As a field and lab technician, environmental monitor, crew chief, and project manager, she contributed to over three dozen archaeology projects in the San Francisco and Monterey Bay areas, the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta, the Central Valley, Owens Valley, and the Sierras.

Dr. Voss received her M. A. (1997) and Ph.D. (2002) in Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley, where she also completed the interdisciplinary graduate-level Designated Emphasis in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. While at UC Berkeley, she was a graduate student researcher at the Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology as well as a graduate student instructor. Dr. Voss’s dissertation was awarded the Robert Heizer Prize for Excellence in the Study of California Archaeology.

Dr. Voss’s early-career research focused on the Spanish-colonial occupation of California (1776–1821). During 1992–2008, she conducted investigations at the Presidio of San Francisco, formerly a Spanish-colonial military outpost and currently a National Historic Landmark District and National Park. She was a lead researcher during discovery and excavation of the settlement’s main quadrangle, and she also directed survey and excavation of extramural sites surrounding the military compound.

Dr. Voss’s investigations at the Presidio of San Francisco examined how colonial settlers – themselves formerly colonized peoples of Native American, African, and European ancestry – became agents of colonization themselves. Her research demonstrated that colonial ethnogenesis (identity transformation) was grounded in material and spatial practices that masked differences among colonists and heightened distinctions between military settlers and Native Californians. Dr. Voss’s publications on this topic were awarded the 2005 Gordon R. Willey Prize (for “From Casta to Californio”) and the 2008 Ruth Benedict Prize (for The Archaeology of Ethnogenesis) by the American Anthropological Association. Dr. Voss continues to research and publish on Spanish colonization as well as developing archaeological methodologies grounded in postcolonial and decolonial theory.

Since 2002, Dr. Voss has developed a transnational, multi-sited, community-engaged research program on the archaeology of the Chinese diaspora. This research agenda has fostered a suite of coordinated projects which include:

  1. Market Street Chinatown Archaeology Project, a laboratory-based study of artifacts excavated from San Jose, California’s first historic Chinatown (1868–1887).
  2. Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project, a collaborative interdisciplinary study of the lives of Chinese migrants who were recruited to build Gilded Age railway networks throughout the North American West.
  3. Archaeology and Heritage of Asian Diaspora Labor on Campus Lands, a field and laboratory research program to identify, investigate, excavate, and analyze material traces of the Chinese, Japanese, and Filipinx workers employed by the Stanford family and Stanford University during ca. 1870–1940.
  4. Cooperation on Home Cultures of Chinese Migrants, which authorizes archaeological studies of late 19th and early 20th century qiaoxiang – migrants’ home villages – in the Pearl River delta region of Guangdong Province, China.

The current findings of these ongoing research projects have been published in American AntiquityHistorical ArchaeologyInternational Journal of Historical ArchaeologyAmerican AnthropologistCurrent AnthropologyJournal of Asian American Studies, and several edited books. In recognition of the transformational nature of this research, in 2016 Dr. Voss was awarded the Heinlen Award for Promotion and Preservation of Chinese American Culture. In 2020–2021, Dr. Voss was honored as a 2020–2021 ACLS Yvette and William Kirby Centennial Fellow in Chinese Studies.

Throughout her career, Dr. Voss has been a leading researcher in gender and sexuality studies in archaeology, forging new methodologies and theoretical approaches grounded in queer theory, postcolonial theory, and critical race studies. With Robert A. Schmidt, she co-edited Archaeologies of Sexuality, which in 2000 was awarded the Ruth Benedict Prize by the American Anthropological Association. Her co-edited book, The Archaeology of Colonialism: Sexual Encounters and Imperial Effects (Cambridge 2012, with Eleanor Casella) critically examined how the sexual politics of the present moment have led to biases in archaeological interpretations of the past, highlighting the need for rigorous empirical studies that account for the full diversity of human gendered and sexual expression. In 2021, Dr. Voss published a two-article series in American Antiquity that documented the severity of sexual harassment in the discipline of archaeology, and proposed adoption of public health models and trauma-informed approaches to support survivors of abuse and to prevent further harassment from occurring

Dr. Voss’s research program is grounded in community-based and public-interest research methodologies. Throughout her career, she has partnered with numerous federal, state/provincial, and municipal agencies as well as non-profit organizations and heritage stakeholders. She has collaborated with educators and artists to produce co-curricular STEM education programs, museum exhibits, traveling exhibits, art installations, and a documentary film. During 2013–2018, she served the U.S. Department of the Interior’s National Historic Landmarks Program as an expert panelist, advisor, and reviewer for the Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Theme Study and the LGBTQ Heritage Theme Study.

Dr. Voss has received grant awards and research contracts from the National Park Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Presidio Trust, the Wenner Gren Foundation, the Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the Debbie Gong-Guy Gift Fund, Chinese Historical and Cultural Project, and Wuyi University (Jiangmen) as well as fellowships from the National Science Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the American Association of University Women, the Hellman Faculty Scholar Program, Stanford Humanities Center, the Stanford Institute for Research in the Social Sciences, and the American Council of Learned Societies. She has served as an editorial board member for American AntiquityInternational Journal of Historical ArchaeologyCalifornia Archaeology, and Journal of Community Archaeology and Heritage, as well as Associate Editor for the University of Arizona Press series, “Archaeology of Indigenous-Colonial Interactions in the Americas.”