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Paul Farnsworth, Ph.D.
Office telephone: 215-204-1424
I received my B.Sc. in geological sciences and archaeology from Leeds University in England in 1980, my M.A. in 1982, and my Ph.D. in 1987 in archaeology from the University of California, Los Angeles. I taught on the faculty of Louisiana State University from 1990 to 2007, becoming Professor and Chair of the Department of Geography and Anthropology. Most recently, I was a project director for William Self Associates, Inc., located in the San Francisco Bay area, and a research affiliate of the Archaeological Research Facility at the University of California, Berkeley.
I am a historical archaeologist whose research interests have focused upon how colonial systems impact the lives and cultures of indigenous and enslaved peoples and their descendants. I am particularly interested in how people maintain, modify, and adapt their identities under a variety of situations created by contact with groups of people with different identities. Historical archaeology is a discipline that blends the fields of history, historical anthropology, and archaeology, and is interdisciplinary by its very nature. It is well suited to studying and seeking to understand complex issues of changing identities over time. I have spent the last 30 years studying British, Spanish, and French colonial systems in the New World, with a particular focus on the experiences of colonized and subaltern populations. My research has included archaeological excavations in the Caribbean, Louisiana, and the West (primarily California).
My primary research area has been the late-18th to early-19th century Bahamas. My research is primarily concerned with the experiences of the African-Bahamian population. The African-Bahamian population of this colony was composed of American-born, Bahamian-born and African-born persons. African-American culture in the Bahamas reflects the influence of many of the elements that shaped African-American cultures of the U.S. South, but in a West Indian geographic, environmental, political, and economic setting, resulting in a unique Bahamian identity that has elements derived from each region. My research, using archaeological evidence in conjunction with demographic analysis, has demonstrated that enslaved Africans maintained distinct ethnic identities in the Bahamas, but simultaneously created pan-African identities.
My research in Louisiana included extensive work on both members of the planter class as well as enslaved and freed African populations. Again, as in the Bahamas, my research was focused on understanding cultural pluralities and the dynamics of cultural change in colonial and subsequent American contexts. My Louisiana research included colonial and American period populations and society. Another major focus of my research has been the economic and social contexts of Native American cultural change in the Franciscan missions of Alta California based on my research at Mission Soledad in the Salinas Valley of California.
More recently, I researched archaeological sites of the second half of the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries in the West. I studied such sites in California, Arizona, Utah, and, to a lesser degree, Texas and Nevada. This research took place in a cultural resource management context. The rise of consumerism, as well as the commercialization of medicine, is also of considerable interest to me, as is the maintenance and reinterpretation of identity through the mid-late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. One recent project focused on the experiences of Irish immigrants in the second half of the nineteenth century in San Francisco. In addition, as a result of working in cultural resource management for a number of years, I am interested in the ways that state and federal cultural-resource and historic-preservation laws, regulations, and guidelines are interpreted and implemented. In particular, I am interested in the differences between traditional archaeological practice and ethics, and federal and state agency interpretations of laws, regulations, and guidelines that restrict archaeological practice in ways that appear to conflict with traditional archaeological ethics.