Consulting Scholars

Suzanne Abel

Suzanne Abel is Academic Director, emerita, of Puente de la Costa Sur in Pescadero, CA; Public Engagement Advisor, pro bono, to the Center for Latin American Studies at Stanford; and Senior Advisor to Stanford’s Haas Center for Public Service. In 2016, she became co-leader of the John W. Gardner Legacy Oral History Project at Stanford. Suzanne joined the Penn CHC Caste War Project in 2012, where she serves as museum consultant to the Museo de la Guerra de Castas. Suzanne received her BA in English from Harvard in 1971 and her MA in Anthropology from Brown in 1978; she also did graduate work at UC Berkeley in Anthropology. Prior to moving to Stanford’s Haas Center in 1995, she was founding director of the Grace Hudson Museum and Sun House in Ukiah, CA, and a field archaeologist and ethnohistorian with the Museo Nacional de Costa Rica. She also did field work in Chiapas, Mexico; Peru; Honduras; Rhode Island and California. Suzanne is a co-author of Between Continents/Between Seas: Precolumbian Art of Costa Rica (1981), The Archaeology of Pacific Nicaragua (1992), and Remember Your Relations: the Elsie Allen Baskets, Family & Friends (1996), among other publications. Remember Your Relations (exhibit and book) received an Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History in 1997.

Ricardo Agurcia

Ricardo Agurcia has invested more than thirty years of work at the monumental site of Copan in Western Honduras. His work at Copan has taken him in two different but related directions, one of them crucial to the recovery and understanding of the past (archaeological excavations since 1976) and the other paramount to guaranteeing that the past remains present (working to preserve and manage the archaeological resources of Copan for tourism and development). To implement some of these goals, he founded and now directs the Copan Association, a non-profit organization that promotes research and protection of Honduras’s patrimony, both cultural and natural. He holds degrees in anthropology and archaeology from Duke (B.A.) and Tulane (M.A.) Universities.

Shaker Al Shbib

Shaker Al Shbib is a Syrian archaeologist who worked until 2011 for the Syrian Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums and served from 2005-2011 as the Director of Excavations and Archaeological Research in the Idlib Region. He has previously worked as an assistant curator and adjunct conservator at the Idlib Archaeological Museum. Al-Shbib received his Master (2006) and Doctorate (2014) degrees from the Université de Paris I and his BA (2001) from Damascus University. He has co-directed the Syrian-French Excavation at Apamea (2003-2005), the Syrian-Lebanese Excavation at Cyrrhus (2006-2011), and the Syrian-Spanish Mission at Tall As Sin (2005-2008). He has also participated in a number of Archaeological projects including the Syrian-Japanese mission at Raqqa region (2005-2006). Doura-Europos (2002-2008), and Tell Afis (2004-2005). Al Shbib is a contracted heritage expert with the Smithsonian Institution and a consulting scholar at the Penn Museum. He has been working with the Safeguarding the Heritage of Syria and Iraq (SHOSI) Project since Januray 2014 on emergency conservation measures at key Syrian heritage sites at risk. Al-Shbib has planned and coordinated the SHOSI emergency preservation projects at the Ma’arra Museum, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Ancient Villages of Northern Syria and the site of Ebla.

Mariam Bachich

Mariam Bachich currently works as a consultant on the Safeguarding the Heritage of Syria and Iraq at the Smithsonian Institution and at the Syrian Heritage Archive project at the Museum of Islamic Art- Berlin, where she is also a museum guide in the Multaka Project. Bachich received her B.A. in Civil Engineering from Homs University and her M.A. in World Heritage Studies at Cottbus University in 2007, where she wrote “Community Based Rural Heritage Management in Syria”. Previously, Bachich worked as an engineer at the Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums in Homs, Syria, as the co-director of the monuments section.

Joanne Baron

Joanne Baron studies the Classic Maya (AD 250-900) of Guatemala and teaches courses in anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania. She received her Ph.D. from the same institution in 2013. Her research investigates the strategies used by Maya communities to retain their local identity and autonomy in the face of inter-polity hierarchies. Her dissertation work was based at the site of La Corona in northwestern Guatemala, where she excavated a series of patron deity temples in order to understand the relationship between religious rituals and political authority at the site. Joanne has recently started working with a Guatemalan colleague, Liliana Padilla, on a new project in northwestern Guatemala. The site of La Florida, in the modern town of El Naranjo, was an important river port during the Classic period. Today, it is located along a newly opened highway linking major tourist destinations in Mexico and Guatemala. By working with the people of El Naranjo, Joanne and Liliana hope to explore the relationships between the site’s location and its economic prosperity, both for the Ancient Maya as well as the modern community.

Christa Cesario

Christa Cesario is a Mellon/ACLS Public Fellow. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania for The Anxiety of Recognition: The Search for Legibility of Mayan Identities in Yucatán, Mexico and San Francisco, California. This study follows the Yucatec Maya revitalization movement across Yucatán and San Francisco as individuals try to influence institutional change to realize a broader political agenda; the result is a rethinking of who can or cannot be “Maya” and “indigenous” across the NGO landscape. Christa has a new project that engages transnational labor migration in the changing relationships between Indigenous peoples and the state. It explores how the Mexican state manages the independence of the Maya migrant as an agent of development through its 3×1 Program, an institutionalization of state-migrant partnerships to incorporate migrant remittances into state-run development projects. Christa’s work with the PennCHC in Mexico has included an oral history project in pertaining to the Caste War of Yucatán, the development of a radio program in Tihosuco centered on themes drawn from the oral history interviews, and in 2017, she began conducting ethnographic research on labor migration between Tihosuco and the Maya Riviera. Past PennCHC work entailed co-organizing the 2008 conference, Indigenous Views of Cultural Heritage and Preservation, in which Indigenous leaders and activists from across the Americas convened at the Penn Museum to share ideas on the meaning of cultural heritage, its stewardship, and the impact of archaeology and tourism on cultural resources.

Jamie Forde

Jamie Forde’s research integrates archaeological, ethnohistorical, and iconographic data to examine indigenous societies of southern Mexico during the Late Prehispanic and Early Colonial periods. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2015, and is director of an interdisciplinary research project based at the site of Achiutla, located in the Mixtec highlands of Oaxaca. Achiutla was the preeminent religious center in the region during the Late Prehispanic period, home of an oracle to which people from throughout the area and beyond made pilgrimage to. His dissertation research focused on excavations of households dating to the Early Colonial period at the site, examining changes and continuities in native lifeways following the Spanish Conquest. This project, supported by the National Science Foundation and National Geographic, shed light on a number of the complex ways by which indigenous families negotiated power relations with colonial authorities and maintained authority amidst social upheaval. He is currently working to expand the project at Achiutla through developing collaborative research with members of the local community, and examining how ruins of the past remain intrinsic to modern notions of collective identity and social memory. This work is intended to coincide with and complement collaborative efforts to develop a community museum at the site.

Aurélie Elisa Gfeller

Aurélie Elisa Gfeller is a historian specializing in global cultural heritage and international relations. She earned her PhD in history from Princeton University (2008) and an MA in international affairs from Stanford University. Currently, she is a researcher at the Graduate Institute in Geneva, Switzerland. Her research on global heritage analyzes the redefinition of heritage concepts and conservation precepts across both scales and variegated groups of actors. By combining macro- and micro-perspectives and using archival collections, she shows that global norms not only bear the imprint of geographically and temporally anchored values but also result from alliances that straddle the traditional West/non-West or North/South divide. She is presently involved in a new interdisciplinary project on the looting and illicit trafficking of cultural artefacts from conflict-affected settings.

Mariano J. Aznar Gómez

Chair of Public International Law at the University Jaume I of Castellón, Spain, since 2008, previously professor at the University of Valencia. Fellow of the Spanish National Scholarship Program of Research, he made his Doctoral Thesis on Verification of Disarmament Treaties (1994). Dr. Aznar Gómez has been visiting professor in the University of the Balearic Islands (1995), University of Naples “Parthénope” (2004), the Université de Paris II – Panthéon Assas (2005) and in the University of Rome “Tor Vergata” (2007). He has also been visiting scholar at the Lauterpacht Research Centre for International Law of the University of Cambridge (2000). Deputy Dean of the Law School of the University of Valencia in 1993-1995, he has been Secretary of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Bancaja Euromediterranean Courses of International Law (1997-2000, 2007-2011) and member of its Editorial Board (2000-2009). Founder member of the European Society of International Law (ESIL) and member of its Board (2004-2012). Dr. Aznar Gómez main research focuses are international responsibility of states, disarmament, maintenance of international peace and security and protection of underwater cultural heritage. Co-author of the Green Book for the Protection of the Spanish Underwater Cultural Heritage (2010), he is a legal expert on the protection of the underwater cultural heritage, acting both for the Spanish Government and for UNESCO. Advocate and counsel of the Kingdom of Spain before the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. Representative of Spain before the Meeting of States Parties of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage, he has participated in the drafting of the Operational Guidelines of this Convention and the new Spanish Law on Maritime Navigation. Patron of the National Museum of Underwater Archaeology.

Peter G. Gould

Peter Gould’s research focuses on cultural economics and on the relationship of archaeological practice and cultural heritage management to economic development and the governance of community-based organizations pursuing local economic growth through heritage resources.  He has studied community projects in Belize, Peru, Ireland and Italy, and has an extensive personal experience in community project governance as a director of several Philadelphia area nonprofits, including tenure as chairman of its Zoo and the Mann music center.  He worked for many years in economics, including in the senior staff role at the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, and also has decades of experience in corporate leadership as both an investor and chief executive.  Peter holds a master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a PhD in archaeology from University College London. He is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries (London). He also is a founding director of the Sustainable Preservation Initiative, an Overseer of the Penn Museum, and a Partner in DigVentures Ltd., a crowd funding-based commercial archaeology firm in the U.K.  In 2018, Peter published Empowering Communities through Archaeology and Heritage (Bloomsbury).  He also is co-editor, with K. Anne Pyburn, of Collision or Collaboration: Archaeology Encounters Economic Development (Springer 2017) and Archaeology and Economic Development (Maney Publishing/Oxbow Books, 2014), co-edited with Paul Burtenshaw.

Elizabeth Greene

Elizabeth Greene is Associate Professor in the Department of Classics at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario. Her research interests include the ancient economy, maritime connectivity, and archaeological ethics. Currently she is involved in the study of Archaic and early Classical shipwreck and harbor sites off the Turkish coast, including the final publication of a 6th-century BCE shipwreck at Pabuç Burnu. Her research considers archaeologically visible evidence for the mechanisms of seaborne trade and exchange. Greene’s interest in the Mediterranean maritime environment extends to legal and ethical issues associated with the excavation and preservation of submerged material in light of the UNESCO 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage.

Katharyn Hanson

Katharyn Hanson, Ph.D., is the Executive Director of The Academic Research Institute in Iraq (TARII) and is a Smithsonian Fellow with the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum Conservation Institute. She works as an archaeologist specializing in the protection of cultural heritage. Katharyn received her doctorate from the University of Chicago with a dissertation entitled: Considerations of Cultural Heritage: Threats to Mesopotamian Archaeological Sites. She has curated museum exhibits and published on damage to ancient sites in Iraq and Syria. Her research combines archaeology, remote sensing, and cultural heritage policy. Dr. Hanson has been involved in various archaeological fieldwork projects for over 20 years and works to promote on-the-ground action to protect culture. She directs the Archaeological Site Preservation Programs at the Iraqi Institute for the Conservation of Antiquities and Heritage in Erbil, Iraq and is in the process of establishing TARII’s office in Baghdad.

Benjamin Isakhan

Benjamin Isakhan is Associate Professor of Politics and Policy Studies and Founding Director of POLIS, a research network for Politics and International Relations in the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalization at Deakin University, Australia. He is also Adjunct Senior Research Associate, Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa. Ben is the author of Democracy in Iraq: History, Politics, Discourse (Routledge, 2016 [2012]) and the editor of 6 books including, most recently, State and Society in Iraq: Citizenship under Occupation, Dictatorship and Democratization (I.B. Tauris, 2017). He is currently Chief Investigator on a three-year project funded by the Australian Department of Defence on ‘Heritage Destruction in Iraq and Syria’.

Ben Jeffs

Ben Jeffs is a cultural heritage expert and archaeologist specializing in the protection and management of fragile heritage in developing economies. After six years with the Museum of London and Oxford Archaeology he has spent the last ten years in private practice, managing projects in over a dozen countries for national governments, private clients and NGOs. Ben has a degree in Archaeology from University College London and a master’s degree in Architectural Conservation. His research focusses on economic development and policy and the archaeology of architecture. He is leading a research and development project at the site of Rakhigarhi in Northern India and work examining status and the genesis of cultural identity through the archaeology of the British East India Company.

Morag Kersel

Professor Kersel is an archaeologist with a doctorate from the Department of Archaeology at the University of Cambridge and a master of Historic Preservation from the University of Georgia. Her research interests include the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age of the eastern Mediterranean and Levant, cultural heritage protection, the built environment, object biographies, museums, and archaeological tourism. Her work combines archaeological, archival and oral history research in order to understand the efficacy of cultural heritage law in protecting archaeological landscapes from looting. Currently she is co-director of the Galilee Prehistory Project and the Follow the Pots Project – tracing the movement of Early Bronze Age pots from the Dead Sea Plain in Jordan.

Louise Krasniewicz

Dr. Krasniewicz is a cultural anthropologist specializing in American culture, media studies, and the analysis of narrative, mythology, symbols, rituals, and cultural metaphors. Her research focuses on the construction of communities and the the use of media culture to define and guide those communities. She has studied the clashes of American communities during anti-nuclear protests, Americans in the Panama Canal Zone, movie and book-based fan communities, the symbolism of the American flag, and the significance of American cultural icons. Dr. Krasniewicz is also a digital media producer, photographer, and graphic artist who uses digital media to convey anthropological ideas and theories and to communicate academic research to the public.

Sarah Kurnick

Sarah Kurnick is an anthropological archaeologist specializing in ancient Mesoamerica. Her research focuses on the creation, perpetuation, and negation of institutionalized social inequality. She earned her doctorate in anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania in 2013, and is an adjunct professor at Lehigh University. Her primary interests include the role of the past in shaping the political present, and archaeology as social practice – how, in other words, archaeology can benefit the public. She is currently starting a new community archaeology project at the site of Punta Laguna, in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Her goals are to understand how the Postclassic community there interacted with its Classic period past, and to work with current residents to engage tourists interested not only in the area’s spider monkeys, but also in its ancient Maya history.

Justin Leidwanger

Justin Leidwanger is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Classics and Director of the Maritime Archaeology Lab at Stanford University. He received his PhD in the graduate group in the Art and Archaeology of the Mediterranean World at the University of Pennsylvania in 2011. Over the past decade, he has been involved in fieldwork and museum-based research on land and in the waters off Cyprus, Turkey, Italy, and elsewhere. His studies focus on the role of seaborne commerce in the organization of the Roman economy. This experience in maritime archaeology led to his engagement with issues of ethical preservation and stewardship of underwater cultural heritage, as well as museum-building, education, and outreach in maritime communities around the Mediterranean and beyond. On these topics he has delivered presentations and published several recent articles, as well as co-organized panels and workshops with the Penn Cultural Heritage Center.

Christina Luke

Dr. Luke is a Lecturer in the Department of Anthropology at Boston University. She has two main areas of research: heritage policy, cultural diplomacy and legislation and the role of boundaries in defining cultural spheres, both in the past and present. Her policy work focuses on international heritage, building on eight years of work with the U.S. Department of State, and she developed and directed the Penn Cultural Heritage Center’s training program for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Her research interests span Latin America, the Balkans, and Anatolia. She is currently involved in projects in western Turkey (Central Lydia Archaeological Survey) and Montenegro, exploring the implications of Western-driven notions of landscape and social identity in the management of natural and cultural places.

Ali Othman

Archaeologist and heritage curator, formerly civil servant in the Service of Excavations at the Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums in Syria (Damascus). Holder of a diploma from the National Institute for Cultural Heritage (Institut national du patrimoine, INP) in France, department of curators, speciality: archaeology. Associate researcher at the IFPO (Institut français du Proche-Orient) since 2014, in the department of Archaeology and History of Antiquity. PhD student in archaeology at the Sorbonne (Paris I University). The research focuses on the Late Antiquity in the Middle Euphrates valley (Syria). In 2013-2014: research assistant at the Louvre Museum, department of Near Eastern Antiquities. From 2003 to 2012: director of the Syrian archaeological mission at the site of Sura in north-eastern Syria. From 2003 to 2004: director of the Syrian archaeological mission at the site of Hosn Suleiman in coastal Syria. Participation in several national and international archaeological missions. June 2011: founder of the team « Le Patrimoine Archéologique Syrien en Danger » (PASD), a collective that aims to monitor and document the Syrian heritage in times of conflict. Member of the project SHOSI (Safeguarding the Heritage of Syria and Iraq). Contributor to the development of the Emergency Red List of Syrian cultural objects at risk, created by ICOM (International Council of Museums). Expert for the UNESCO in “Emergency Safeguarding of the Syrian Cultural Heritage Project – Roster of Experts and Information Sharing Network”.

Sasha Renninger

Sasha graduated from Penn in 2009 with a BA in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations and Anthropology and 2013 with a Master of Computer and Information Science degree from the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Penn. From 2008 to 2013, Sasha was the Administrative Coordinator of the PennCHC, and from 2013 to 2015, she was the database administrator of the Ur Digitization Project at the Penn Museum. She is currently the Digital Humanities Specialist for the Penn Museum Library. In addition, she has worked at the Penn Museum in both the Asian and American sections as a researcher and has excavated in both the US and Egypt. Her interests include developing software solutions to meet the needs of archaeologists and museum curators.

James Sarmento

Mr. Sarmento is Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians. He grew up listening to family stories about his Shasta ancestry and now studies the Shasta language as a doctoral student in the Native American Studies Program at the University of California, Davis. He worked directly with (now deceased) linguist Dr. Shirley Silver (Sonoma State University). Previously, he was the Cultural Resources Manager for the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation and the executive director of the Native American Language Center at the University of California, Davis and the project coordinator for the J. P. Harrington Database Project, which has assisted numerous scholars and California Native communities in transcribing and understanding the ethnographic and linguistic materials collected by J. P. Harrington.

Corine Wegener

Corine Wegener is Cultural Heritage Preservation Officer in the Office of the Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture at the Smithsonian Institution where she coordinates the Smithsonian’s domestic and international role in response to cultural heritage disasters. Before her arrival at the Smithsonian, Wegener was associate curator in the department of Decorative Arts, Textiles, and Sculpture at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. In her concurrent Army Reserve career, she served as a Civil Affairs officer, including Arts, Monuments, and Archives Officer for the 352d Civil Affairs Command in Baghdad, Iraq, 2003-2004. Wegener is past president of the U.S. Committee of the Blue Shield. She holds a B.G.S from the University of Nebraska-Omaha and dual M.A. degrees in Art History and Political Science from the University of Kansas.

Susan Wolfinbarger

Dr. Susan R. Wolfinbarger is a contracted data visualization expert for the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations (via MicroSystems Automation Group). She was formerly the Director for the Geospatial Technologies Project, a part of the Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights and Law Program of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) where she oversees the projects of AAAS that deal with the applications of geospatial technologies to a range of human rights and humanitarian issues. Her work focuses on the conceptualization, development, and deployment of geospatial technologies and information for human rights-related issues. Her research interests focus on the use of satellite remote sensing as evidence in legal cases, particularly those related to human rights; advancing human rights outcomes through geospatial documentation; feminist and critical views of technology; and the implications and ethics related to the rapid rise in the use of geographic technologies, including volunteered geographic information. She has provided training to multiple human rights organizations, courts, and commissions regarding the implementation of appropriate geospatial methodologies to human rights documentation and litigation. She has published on the uses of remote sensing for land cover and land use change, forced migration, and environmental rights documentation. She holds the degrees Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Geography from The Ohio State University (2012); Master of Arts (M.A.) in Geography from The George Washington University (2006); and Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Geography and Spanish from Eastern Kentucky University (2004).