Shannon Lee Dawdy, University of Chicago

Associate Professor Chicago, Illinois sdawdy@uchicago.edu Office: (773) 834-0829

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Bio/Research

Professor Dawdy is an anthropologist whose fieldwork combines archaeological, archival, and ethnographic methods with a regional focus on the U.S., Caribbean, and Mexico. The central thread running through her work concerns how landscapes and material objects mediate human relationships, whether ...

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Bio/Research

Professor Dawdy is an anthropologist whose fieldwork combines archaeological, archival, and ethnographic methods with a regional focus on the U.S., Caribbean, and Mexico. The central thread running through her work concerns how landscapes and material objects mediate human relationships, whether this means an examination of the historical ecologies of capitalism, or the emotional trajectories of those who lost their intimate object worlds to Hurricane Katrina. Her first book, Building the Devil's Empire, offers 'rogue colonialism' to explain how French New Orleans, and many colonies like it, functioned outside state controls, developing a political economy loosely moored to metropolitan interests. Her new book, Patina: A Profane Archaeology, investigates nostalgic practices surrounding antiques, heirlooms, historic houses, and ruins. It argues that these practices provide a means of critiquing the capitalist present and of bonding people together through a type of kinship. Her current research focuses on rapidly changing death practices in the U.S., particularly around disposition and transformation of the body. Collaborating with a filmmaker, the work also explores what happens when we turn an archaeological lens on contemporary life, and the possibilities of an artistic approach to anthropological questions. Professor Dawdy is a recent MacArthur Fellow and has received funding for her fieldwork from the National Science Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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