• Zoe Crossland

    Associate Professor
    965 Schermerhorn Extension, Mail Code: 5523, United States
    +1 212 854 7465


    My main theoretical interests lie in semiotic archaeology, and archaeologies of death and the body. I work in historical archaeology and the archaeology of the contemporary past, focusing particularly on nodes of controversy where conflicting sets of beliefs and practices converge. In particular, I am interested in the ways in which negotiations and conflict between actors are mediated through material conditions. To fully understand the extent to which archaeology may analyze such conditions I work with two radically different areas of research.


    My research in Madagascar is concerned with archaeologies of encounter in the highlands.  One aspect of this research traces the introduction of Protestant Christianity into Madagascar by British missionaries at the start of the 19th century. Here I focus on the potential dislocation that was experienced when one way of living, learned through a lifetime’s experience within specific material and social conditions, was challenged in a confrontation with a radically different understanding of how to act effectively and morally, the ways in which people attempted to resolve and make sense of this dislocation, and the new and unanticipated formations that were created as a result. I am currently completing a book which explores the semiotics of encounters in highland Madagascar, provisionally entitled: ‘Encounters with Ancestors: archaeologies of recognition and loss in highland Madagascar’

    Forensic Archaeology and Charles Sanders Peirce’s Semeiotic

    My second area of research focuses on the production of the excavated body. Here I draw on the semeiotic of C. S. Peirce to explore the signs of the body and of exhumation, considering how archaeologists constitute themselves and others through embodied material engagement with the world. Through exploring the language and orientation of forensic archaeology towards the excavation of human remains, this research works towards a fuller appreciation of the situated and material semiotic relationships through which archaeology is composed, in order to better understand how we construct meaning from excavated material remains.


    2011 (in press). A Fine and Private Place: The Archaeology of Death and Burial in Post-medieval Britain and Ireland. A. Cherryson, Z. Crossland and S. Tarlow (co-authors). Leicester: University of Leicester Archaeological Monographs.

    2012 (in press). The signs of mission: rethinking archaeologies of representation. In Materializing Colonial Encounters: Archaeologies of African Experience. F. Richard and D Cruz (eds). Duke University Press.

    2011 (in press). Archaeology of warfare and conflict. In The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of Ritual and Religion, R. McLean and T. Insoll, eds. Oxford University Press.

    2010. Materiality and embodiment. In The Oxford Handbook of Material Culture Studies (Ms No. 19). D. Hicks and M. Beaudry, (eds), pp. 386-405. Oxford University Press.

    2009. Of clues and signs: the dead body and its evidential traces. American Anthropologist 111(1):69-80.

    2009. Acts of estrangement: the making of self and other through exhumation. Archaeological Dialogues 16(1):102-125.

    2008.   Z. Crossland, M. Freeman, P. Jones and B. Boyd. The Llanbadarn Fawr ‘gravestone urn’: an object history. In Monuments in the Landscape. P. Rainbird (ed), pp. 212-227. Windgather Press.

    2006 Landscape and mission in Madagascar and Wales in the early 19th century: ‘Sowing the seeds of knowledge’. Landscapes 7(1): 93-121.

    2003 Towards an archaeology of ‘empty’ space: the efitra of the Middle West of Madagascar. Michigan Discussions in Anthropology, 14: 18-36.

    2002 Violent spaces: conflict over the reappearance of Argentina’s disappeared. In The Archaeology of 20th Century Conflict, J. Schofield, C. Beck, and W. G. Johnson (eds), pp. 115-131. One World Archaeology, London: Routledge.

    2001 Time and the ancestors: landscape survey in the Andrantsay region of Madagascar. Antiquity 75(290): 825-836.

    2000 Buried lives: forensic archaeology and Argentina’s disappeared. Archaeological Dialogues, 7(2): 146-159.