CAPBlog

Digging Into The Past: Girl Scout Badge

Digging Into The Past: Girl Scout Badge

The Campus Archaeology Program has been hard at work this semester prepping for our collaborative event with Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan. The goal of this event is to teach young women about a career path in archaeology and award them with an archaeology badge…

World Anthropology Day 2020!

World Anthropology Day 2020!

To celebrate world anthropology day, the current CAP graduate fellows wanted to share how they became interested in anthropology, and some current or favorite projects they are involved in! Grace: As a first-year PhD student moving to a new state and school, I initially came…

Stranger in the Lab

Stranger in the Lab

“What were you thinking?!” I asked myself a cool day in September. I kept my eyes down toward the black tabletop to avoid making eye contact with the trowels across from me that seemed to be staring back and whispering “you’re in the wrong building!” I wondered what a first-year sociocultural anthropology student with minimal background in anthropology and no background in archaeology was doing in a graduate archaeology fellowship. Friends, and family have also questioned why I chose to explore the world of archaeology when my research interests clearly lie in the sociocultural realm. If the response to my participation in CAP is not an Indiana Jones joke, it is confusion and intrigue. To be honest, I do not have a definite answer as to why I officially signed on to be a CAP graduate fellow and I have come to realize that might have served me well this first year. 

The instinct for most students at the doctoral level would likely be to reserve their limited time to organizations that have a clear link to their research or at least their subfield. I certainly considered this as I made my decision but I realized that I wouldn’t feel right in my field if I did not have at least some idea of what everyone else was doing. Part of my motivation to join CAP was to pay respect to the discipline I was new to and to get acquainted with the interplay between the subfields. I was also especially drawn to CAP’s outreach-oriented mission which I believe is too often overlooked in academic environments. During my first semester, I got to participate in creating innovative ways to connect with our community and understand what CAP, and archaeology, could be about. Events such as the ones mentioned in our previous blog post showcased the dedication CAP has to moving beyond the bounds of MSU’s campus and get the greater mid-Michigan community engaging with the land we all occupy in a thoughtful manner that highlights the the rich history of the area. 

Since joining CAP, I have come to see the places in which the subfields of anthropology overlap. My experience thus far has shown me the benefits that a four-field approach can bring to such an interdisciplinary practice. An example of this has been my research with historical anthropology student and CAP colleague Benjamin Akey where we have been conducting archival research on the history of Asian American graduate students at MSU. This collaboration has allowed me to expand my own understanding of archaeology to recognize the ways in which archaeology can be a powerful tool to address overlooked histories. Our research will conclude this spring with an oral history that reflects on the formation of the Asian Pacific Graduate Alliance (APAGA) at MSU. As a non-archaeologist CAP fellow, I feel that my background has also supported CAP’s work to deconstruct narratives that reduce archaeology to digging for buried treasure. Through the inclusion of oral histories as a CAP project and an emphasis on archival research, I feel that I have been able to serve as an example to myself and hopefully to others of the way the anthropological community can benefit from cross-subfield collaboration. 

As the second semester picks up, I still find myself raising my hand during our weekly meetings to clarify what are probably concepts the archaeology students could explain in their sleep but I feel excited to learn the answer instead of nervous that too many questions will make them regret taking on someone with such minimal expertise. What I didn’t know, I have learned thanks to the patience of the rest of the CAP fellows and our fearless leaders Dr. Stacey Camp and Autumn Painter. In addition to the many laughs, professional experience, and kind people CAP has brought into my life, I have also become more well-rounded in my own practice which I believe can only aid me in the future. 

I want to express my deepest gratitude to the MSU Archives who have been extremely helpful throughout our research process and please stay tuned for our APAGA oral history coming later this spring!

2020 CAP Update

2020 CAP Update

Welcome to the new decade – 2020! With the start of this new era, and our spring semester at Michigan State University, we are happy to continue working through the Campus Archaeology Program! In addition to working on our individual projects (detailed in our previous…

A Historical Perspective on Graduate Education at MSU

A Historical Perspective on Graduate Education at MSU

Chittenden Hall, current home of The Graduate School. At the time of photo, Chittenden was the Department of Forestry. Photo courtesy of the MSU University Archives & Historical Collections. As it stands today, graduate education makes up a substantial and integral part of Michigan State…

CAP Lab Open House

CAP Lab Open House

Last Tuesday, November 12, 2019, Campus Archaeology hosted their first Open House. For two hours, Campus Archaeology opened our lab doors to the public. Campus Archaeology strives to have a standing relationship with the community through our numerous outreach events each year, as well as our public service to Michigan State University. We frequently engage with the public to educate people in all walks of life on what it means to be an archaeologist. At these outreach events, people get to see examples of what we do in the field and some of the artifacts that have been recovered from MSU’s campus, but people never really get to see what we do on a daily basis.

The work that takes place in the Campus Archaeology Laboratory represents a typical day as an archaeologist: artifact cataloguing and analysis, research, and training students. Most people correlate archaeologists with fieldwork, but the majority of our work is focused on analyzing and interpreting the data collected from our fieldwork. Thus, Campus Archaeology wanted to provide an opportunity for the public to see behind-the-scenes of an archaeology lab through the Open House.

Our visitors ranged from MSU faculty and staff to high school students interested in a career in archaeology. During the Open House, guests were presented with a range of artifacts recovered from MSU’s campus, posters from conferences demonstrating current research in our lab, examples of our outreach activities to show how we engage with the public, digital and printed 3D models of artifacts, and examples of how we catalogue and curate artifacts. Guests were also able to directly interact with current CAP fellows and interns to learn about their experiences with CAP as well as their personal research projects.

Campus Archaeology would like to thank everyone who attended the Open House event. We had a fantastic time talking with everyone and appreciate your support.

Emphasizing Laboratory Work in Archaeology: A New Outreach Activity

Emphasizing Laboratory Work in Archaeology: A New Outreach Activity

MSU’s Campus Archaeology Program is well known in our community for our public outreach events and our archaeological excavations. These activities allow our archaeologists to be visible members of our MSU community and gets us out of our laboratories so we can teach and dig!…

MSU at the Midwest Archaeological Conference

MSU at the Midwest Archaeological Conference

Next week is the annual Midwest Archaeological Conference (October 10-12, 2019) in Mankato, MN. Below is a list of dates and times of all MSU presentations. This includes past, present, and retired MSU graduate students and faculty. Included is a poster on the Campus Archaeology…

Introducing our CAP Undergraduate Interns

Introducing our CAP Undergraduate Interns

This year we have two undergraduate interns working in the Campus Archaeology Program lab. These two students both attended the summer 2019 archaeological field school. Below you can read a little more about them!

Reid Ellefson-Frank is an undergraduate student at MSU working towards a degree in archaeology. He grew up visiting Lynne Goldstein’s field schools and public outreach archaeology events. A decade later he finds himself inside the Campus Archaeology Program that ran the events he enjoyed as a child. He is primarily interested in the archaeology of the destruction of buildings, both on the boarder between Wales and England, and in Eastern Europe in Jewish villages that experienced pogroms. He is accompanied by his service dog Llywelyn, who remains constantly disappointed that he is not allowed to chew on any of the bones found during excavation or being catalogued in the lab.

Woman holding trowel while kneeling in archaeological excavated unit.

Alexis (Lexi) Cupp is a fourth-year undergraduate student in the Department of Anthropology with a minor in environmental health and environmental sustainability studies. In the summer of 2019, she partook in the Campus Archaeology Field school where she developed an interest in Archaeology and the history of Michigan State’s campus. This is her first year participating in the Campus Archaeology internship program. She looks forward to engaging with the public through the haunted tour of MSU and is excited to showcase her research at various symposiums. She enjoys learning about history and hopes to incorporate her knowledge of the environment and society to examine the relationships between humans and their environment spatiotemporally.

Introducing Our 2019-2020 CAP Graduate Fellows

Introducing Our 2019-2020 CAP Graduate Fellows

Benjamin Akey: Benjamin (they/them/theirs) is a first-year doctoral student and graduate research assistant studying historical archaeology. They received their BA in Anthropology from University of California Santa Cruz in 2018, where they focused on the performance and negotiation of class and ethnic identities through patterns…