As Curator of the Anthropology Collections I work to sustain the Collections and facilitate their use. I teach a course each Spring in the Collections, and regularly host classes and other groups interested in seeing and working with particular groups of objects. I also host open-house events, typically at Homecoming and Reunion but also other times as appropriate. We have two main exhibit areas, in the first-floor hallway and in the Department seminar room, where we can feature materials from the Collections; these exhibits are usually produced working with students.
My first research focus has long been on Native North America and the historical relations between Native and European cultures, past and present. Particular emphases have included Native American perceptions of Europeans in contact situations, perspectives on warfare and violence, and the maintenance of ethnic identity. This research has included consulting with tribes on questions of land claims, recognition, and repatriation, as well as extensive archaeological and archival research. My main focus has been on Algonquian groups, particularly the Powhatan tribes of Virginia, but I have also worked on specific topics in the Pacific Northwest (mainly with the Tlingits of Alaska).
Beginning in the mid-1990s I have also studied the Spanish Caribbean, particularly U.S. involvement there and its relationships to U.S. Indian policy and its practice. My primary focus here has been on Puerto Rico, secondary on Cuba. I also study tourism and travel in Puerto Rico and Cuba, nineteenth century to the present, and representations (in art, photography, material culture, literature, advertising, etc.) and their relationships to identity issues in Puerto Rico and Cuba. Most recently I have been researching a forgotten Puerto Rican singer/dancer/actress and her position in the history of Latino performers in the US.
In approach I emphasize methods and theories for interpreting material and visual culture and documentary evidence, including textual and semiotic approaches and quantitative methods, along with ways to integrate such research with other streams of evidence. I have produced photographic and poster exhibits, websites, and videos as well as publications, and have taught a wide range of courses in all of the traditional subfields of the discipline.
I also am actively engaged in research on the history and development of the Americanist tradition in anthropology and archaeology, with foci including the work of Frank Speck and his students and the University of Chicago and University of Wisconsin departments. My interest in other disciplinary traditions of the world is reflected in the philosophy and contents of Histories of Anthropology Annual, which I co-founded and co-edit. I am active in professional organizations at the national and international level, and received the AAA President's Award in 2002 for my work on the AAA Centennial Commissions.
- Native North America
- Puerto Rico and Cuba
- Textual, Material and Visual Culture
- Museums, Heritage and Tourism
- (edited with Regna Darnell) Histories of Anthropology Annual. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. Volumes 1-13 published 2005-2019; volume 14 in press, volume 15 in preparation
- (edited with Regna Darnell) Celebrating a Century of the American Anthropological Association: Presidential Portraits. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press and the American Anthropological Association.
- (edited with Lisa J. Lefler) Southern Indians and Anthropologists: Culture, Politics, and Identities. Athens: University of Georgia Press.
- Powhatan's World and Colonial Virginia: A Conflict of Cultures. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.
- Humanistic Anthropology. In Oxford Bibliographies in Anthropology, John Jackson, ed. New York: Oxford University Press. Online resource: http://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780199766567/obo-9780199766567-0101.xml?rskey=FI576M
- Notes on the Use and Abuse of Cultural Knowledge. In Anthropology and the Politics of Representation, Gabriela Vargas-Cetina, ed. Pp. 176-190. Birmingham: University of Alabama Press.
- (with Carolyn Podruchny and Roger Roulette) Putting Up Poles: Power, Navigation, and Cultural Mixing in the Fur Trade. In Gathering Places: Essays on Aboriginal Histories, Laura Peers and Carolyn Podruchny, eds. Pp. 25-47. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press.
- Sociology, Progressivism, and the Undergraduate Training of Anthropologists at the University of Wisconsin, 1925-30. In Histories of Anthropology Annual, volume 5. Regna Darnell and Frederic W. Gleach, eds. Pp. 229-250. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.
- Cushing at Cornell: The Early Years of a Pioneering Anthropologist. In Histories of Anthropology Annual, volume 3. Regna Darnell and Frederic W. Gleach, eds. Pp. 99-120. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.
- Pocahontas: An Exercise in Myth-making and Marketing. In New Perspectives on Native North America: Cultures, Histories, and Representations. Sergei Kan and Pauline Turner Strong, eds. Pp. 433-455. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press
- Theory, Practice, Life: Rethinking Americanist Anthropology for the Twenty-First Century. Reviews in Anthropology 32(3): 191-205
- Controlled Speculation and Constructed Myths: The Saga of Pocahontas and Captain John Smith. In Reading Beyond Words: Contexts for Native History, second edition. Jennifer S. H. Brown and Elizabeth Vibert, eds. Pp.39-74. Peterborough: Broadview Press
- Pocahontas at the Fair: Crafting Identities at the 1907 Jamestown Exposition. Ethnohistory 50(3): 419-445.
- Images of Empire: Popular Representations of the 1898 War. Latino(a) Research Review 5(1):51-79
- Anthropological Professionalization and the Virginia Indians at the Turn of the Century. American Anthropologist 104(2):499-507.
- Powhatan Identity in Anthropology and Popular Culture (and Vice Versa). In Southern Indians and Anthropologists: Culture, Politics, and Identities. Lisa J. Lefler and Frederic W. Gleach, eds. Pp. 5-18. Athens: University of Georgia Press.
- Mimesis, Play, and Transformation in Powhatan Ritual. In Papers of the Twenty-sixth Algonquian Conference. David Pentland, ed. Pp. 114-23. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba.
- A Rose by Any Other Name: Questions of Mockley Chronology. Journal of Middle Atlantic Archaeology 4: 85-98.
- A Working Projectile Point Classification for Central Virginia. Archaeological Society of Virginia Quarterly Bulletin 42(2): 80-120.