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Allison Mickel, Associate Professor of Anthropology at Lehigh University

Allison Mickel

Associate Professor

0031 - Williams Hall

Ph.D. in Anthropology, Stanford University, 2016

M.A. in Anthropology Stanford University, 2016

B.A. in Anthropology & Linguistics, The College of William and Mary, 2011

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Research Areas

Additional Interests

  • Cultural Heritage
  • Labor
  • Middle East
  • Politics of Representation
  • Narrative
  • Community Archaeology
  • Tourism
  • Science and Technology Studies
  • Social Network Analysis

Research Statement

Allison Mickel is Associate Professor of Anthropology in the Department of Sociology & Anthropology, and Director of Global Studies. She is also a core faculty member in Lehigh's Center for Global Islamic Studies. She received her PhD in anthropology from Stanford University in 2016 and her BA from The College of William and Mary in 2011. 

Her research focuses on how local communities have impacted and been affected by the long history of archaeological work in the Middle East. By interviewing current and former site workers employed on archaeological projects, and utilizing statistical and visual methods like social network analysis, Allison Mickel maps, measures, illustrates, transcribes, outlines, and stipples the roles that local community members play in the processes of archaeological knowledge production. She has excavated in Jordan, Turkey, Kenya, and the United States, and is now undertaking an NEH-funded ethnographic project centering on two new private companies in Jordan advocating for the recognition of local expertise and fair labor conditions on archaeological excavations.

Allison Mickel's newest book, Why Those Who Shovel are Silent: A History of Local Archaeological Labor and Knowledge, published in March 2021 by University Press of Colorado, focuses on the ways in which archaeological excavations rely on the expertise that locally-hired laborers possess about archaeological remains and methodologies. Mickel was recognized with the G. Ernest Wright Award, "given to the author/editor of the most substantial volume(s) dealing with archaeological material, excavation reports and material culture from the ancient Near East and Eastern Mediterranean," for Why Those Who Shovel are Silent. Her previous book, Archaeologists as Authors and the Stories of Sites: Defending the Use of Fiction in Archaeological Writing, explored the politics of representation in publications about archaeology, and the potential for fiction to engage new audiences in archaeology. She has also published in peer-reviewed journals including the Journal of Archaeological Method & Theory, Journal of Field Archaeology, Archaeologies, Public Archaeology, World Archaeology, Antiquity, Near Eastern Archaeology and Anthropology & Humanism.

In addition to her scholarly work advocating for more inclusive practices in archaeology, Allison Mickel is also an active public anthropologist, writing for newspapers and online platforms, volunteering with the organization Skype a Scientist, reviewing educational material for organizations like the Boy Scouts of America, and organizing annual outreach events with local public schools for Anthropology Day. She has published in outlets for diverse public audiences including Biblical Archaeological Review, Sapiens, RaceBaitr, The St. Louis Dispatch, and The Morning Call.


Allison Mickel's 9-year-old birthday party was a Recycling Party, where all the guests walked around the neighborhood, picked up trash, and sorted it. She organizes the books in her office by the Library of Congress catalog system. Mickel is her grandmother's apple pie, a Subaru Impreza, bad movies, and a proliferation of indoor houseplants. She knows (some of) the secret ways to get into the Chicago Magic Lounge and is an admin of the Lehigh Valley Buy Nothing Facebook group. By the time she calls tech support, she has probably already tried turning it off and on again. One day, she hopes to settle on the perfect karaoke song.

Recent Publications:
2022. Allison Mickel, Patrycja Filipowicz & Lucy Bennison-Chapman. “25 Years of Community Engagement at Çatalhöyük.” In Communities at Work: the Making of Çatalhöyük, edited by I. Hodder and C. Tsoraki. McDonald Institute: Cambridge.

2021. Why Those Who Shovel are Silent: A History of Local Archaeological Knowledge and Labor. University Press of Colorado: Louisville.
*Winner – G. Ernest Wright Book Award
*Winner—Williamson Social Science Award 

2021. Allison Mickel & Nylah Byrd. "Cultivating Trust, Producing Knowledge: The Management of Archaeological Labour and the Making of a Discipline." History of the Human Sciences. doi: 10.1177/09526951211015855 

2020. Allison Mickel, Patrycja Filipowicz & Lucy Bennison-Chapman.  “Ethnography, Engagement, Evaluations, and Endings: The Achievements and Limitations of Community Outreach at Çatalhöyük.” Near Eastern Archaeology 83(3): 182-190. doi: 10.1086/710253

2020. "The Proximity of Communities to the Expanse of Big Data." Journal of Field Archaeology 45(sup1): S51-S60. doi: 10.1080/00934690.2020.1713284 

2019. "Orientalism and Origins: The Search for Firsts in the ‘Cradle of Civilization’.” In Interrogating Human Origins: Decolonisation and the Deep Past, edited by J. Matthews and M. Porr. Routledge: London.

2019. "Essential Excavation Experts: Alienation and Agency in the History of Archaeological Labor." Archaeologies 15: 181-205. doi: 10.1007/s11759-019-09356-9 

2018. "Authenticity in Archaeological Writing and Representation." In Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology, edited by C. Smith. 2nd ed. Spinger Reference: Berline Heidelberg. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-51726-1_1564-2


Courses Taught:

ANTH 011: Cultural Diversity and Human Nature
ANTH 012: Human Evolution and World Prehistory 
ANTH 106: Cultural Studies and Globalization
ANTH 108: Not-so-Lonely Planet: The Anthropology of Tourism
ANTH 173: Archaeology of the Middle East
ANTH 377: Archaeology of Death 
ANTH 396: The Violence of Science