Maria Theresia Starzmann

Assistant Professor

Ph.D. Binghamton University, 2011

As an archaeologist working in contexts of the recent and contemporary past, my research focuses on life in and around institutions of confinement, such as labor camps and prisons. I combine analyses of material remains and landscape histories with an investigation of the political and economic context of the institution in order to develop a 'political economy of punishment' approach that is applicable to the archaeological past. The goal is to be able to understand how the material practices of penal politics relate to the socio-economic organization of society at large. In addition, this research seeks to diversify the archaeological narrative by integrating, wherever possible, the memories and stories of those living 'on the inside' or in the vicinity of institutions of confinement into my analysis.

My work on the history and politics of archaeology focuses on gaining an understanding of the cultural context within which Middle Eastern Archaeology formed as an academic discipline and as a field science. This research analyzes the colonial entanglements of archaeology in historical perspective. A major focus of my research is to examine how the encounters of Western archaeologists with the contemporary 'Orient' have shaped and continue to shape colonial imaginaries regarding the 'Oriental Other.' I engage both in a critical reading of Orientalist discourses and in an analysis of the material practices of fieldwork in the Middle East, including the organization of labor, the management of sites, the framing and distribution of research results, etc.

Representative Publications

Starzmann, Maria Theresia. In press. Excavating Memory: Sites of Remembering and Forgetting. Editor (with John Roby). University Press of Florida, Cultural Heritage Series.

Starzmann, Maria Theresia. 2015. “The materiality of forced labor: An archaeological exploration of punishment in Nazi Germany.” International Journal of Historical Archaeology 19: 647-663.

Starzmann, Maria Theresia. 2014. “Excavating Tempelhof airfield: Objects of memory and the politics of absence.” Rethinking History 18(2): 211-229.

Starzmann, Maria Theresia. 2013. “Occupying the past: Colonial rule and archaeological practice in Israel/Palestine.“ Archaeologies 9(3): 546-571.

Starzmann, Maria Theresia. 2012. “Archaeological fieldwork in the Middle East: Academic agendas, labour politics and neo-colonialism.” In European Archaeology Abroad. Leiden: Sidestone Press, pp. 401-414.

Starzmann, Maria Theresia. 2010. “Structural violence as political experience in Palestine: An archaeology of the past in the present.” Present Pasts 2(1): 126-141.

Starzmann, Maria Theresia. 2008. “Cultural imperialism and heritage politics in the event of armed conflict: Prospects for an ‘activist archaeology’.” Archaeologies 4(3): 368-389.


ANTH 201: Introduction to Archaeology
ANTH 380: Social Archaeology of Technology
ANTH 381a: Near Eastern Archaeology
ANTH 381b: Archaeology, Museums and Material Culture
ANTH 403: Current Issues in Archaeology
ANTH 413: Gender in Archaeology
ANTH 491: Joint Honours Thesis
ANTH 551a: Archaeologies of the Contemporary Past
ANTH 551b: Archaeologies of Colonialism