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About Robert W. Paynter

I study historical archaeology, something I think of as the investigation of the global development, spread, and resistance to capitalism and European expansion. I start this work with the material culture – the artifacts and landscapes – produced and consumed by people caught up in these processes. These material traces are then woven with documentary traces to develop holistic understandings of how the world of today came into being. I have found it crucial to read the theoretical and historical perspectives on capitalism and conquest developed by authors positioned variously throughout the globe, bringing perspectives of people who know the various political economies and cultural forms of the peoples of Africa , the Americas , and Europe . This global focus frames my field work on sites in Western Massachusetts in the US , including work in Deerfield Village in Deerfield and at the W.E.B. Du Bois Boyhood Homesite in Great Barrington. This said, I encourage and sponsor students interested in these local areas as well as those interested in studying capitalism and conquest elsewhere around the globe. Finally, I hold to the idea that historical archaeology is best understood within a broad anthropological perspective, one that compares and contrasts the workings of the modern world with those of archaeologically known ancient and pre-state societies. I find I can best do this work with colleagues in the Anthropology department as well as people interested in Native American Indian studies, Afro American Studies, and Women's Studies. Reflecting my concerns, I teach our introduction to general anthropology for non-majors, Anthro 100 Human Nature, co-teach courses on Native studies, and co-direct our Summer Field School in Archaeology.


Present Professor, Department of Anthropology, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, University of Massachusetts - Amherst

Curriculum Vitae


Contact Information

Machmer Hall, Rm 203
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Amherst MA, 01003

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