Meet our newest colleague: Allison Mickel, archaeologist

When she arrived in Bethlehem this summer after six years at Stanford University, Dr. Allison Mickel had a good idea what her new job at Lehigh would entail. After all, she had visited a friend on the Lehigh campus during her undergrad years, and studied up on the university before applying for a new faculty position in the Department of Sociology & Anthropology last year. Even so, Lehigh had some surprises in store for her.


“Something I didn’t realize until getting here was how truly interdisciplinary the university is, how robust the centers on campus are in bringing people together from different disciplines,” says Mickel after her first month on the job. “Being an archaeologist I’m really excited to bring that to the conversation, because archaeology bears on anthropology, history and on all dimensions of social theory in different disciplines. Archaeology has a lot to contribute.”


Currently teaching “Cultural Study and Globalization,” Mickel plans to offer a new course next spring called “The Not-So-Lonely Planet: The Anthropology of Tourism.” Students in the seminar will explore questions such as why people travel, how politics relates to cultural heritage, and how tourism development reshapes communities. For Mickel these questions aren’t merely academic: her fieldwork in Jordan and Turkey has examined the impact of tourism and archaeological research on local communities, and forms the basis of her forthcoming book entitled Why Those Who Shovel Are Silent: The Unknown Experts of Archaeology.


Mickel is also planning a new study of Jordanian private companies that work with foreign researchers and grant funding to ensure fair hiring and pay for local site workers. These enterprises aim, in Mickel’s words, to “change the archaeological encounter, the way archaeology is done, and the knowledge produced” by changing the relationship between largely foreign archaeological experts and Jordanian archaeological workers. If they succeed, they could be a model for archaeologists elsewhere.


Our department is pleased to welcome Allison Mickel to Lehigh!