Alex Barker

Research Interests: 

My research focuses on three main topics: 1) the economies of prestate hierarchical societies, and in particular the articulation of household and political economies in such societies; 2) the role of both household and political economies in the rise of social inequality; and 3) the role of symbols and iconography in leveraging and legitimating social inequalities. These are, of course, closely related and intertwined topics, and they are less a series of discrete topics than themes that inform my research and influence my thinking. Most of my research is in the temperate latitudes of the North American mid-continent and east-central Europe, and examines various permutations of these three research themes. I’ve also become increasingly concerned with issues of cultural property, tangible heritage and the use of the material past in constructing modern social identities—interests that inform my continuing research on the so-called Moundbuilders of North America.

Select Publications

Ethics as Process: Anthropology’s Dialogue on Practice, book contract signed with Left Coast Press, with Dena Plemmons. 2014.

“Evidence for Holocene aeolian activity at the close of the Middle Bronze Age in the Eastern Carpathian Basin: Geoarchaeological Results from the Mureş River Valley, Romania.”  Geoarchaeology 28(2):131-146 (with Sarah C. Sherwood, Jason D. Windingstad, John M. O’Shea and W. Cullen Sherwood) 2013.

“North America Museums (USA and Canada),” substantive invited entry, Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology; Claire Smith, editor-in-chief, Springer-Verlag 2013.

“The American Anthropological Association’s Statement on Ethics.” ICA Ethiek: Instituut Culturele Antropologie, Leiden, Hersft 2013:3-5.

“Powhatan's Pursestrings: On the Role of Surplus in a Seventeenth Century Algonkian Chiefdom.” Open Anthropology: A Public Journal of the American Anthropological Association, Special Issue on Violence 1(2) (2013; reprinted from 1992).

“Provenience, Provenance and Context(s).” In The Futures of Our Pasts, Michael Adler and Susan Bruning, eds., pp. 19-30. Santa Fe: School for Advanced Research Press, 2012.

“Excavations at Pecica Santul Mare, Arad County, Romania, 2005-2010.”  Muse 44-45:39-48, 2012.

All the King's Horses: Essays on the Impact of Looting and the Illicit Antiquities Trade on Our Knowledge of the Past (edited with Paula Kay Lazrus), Society for American Archaeology Press (print and Kindle editions) 2012.

“Museums, Public Interpretations Within.”The Oxford Companion to Archaeology. London: Oxford University Press, 2012. Simultaneously published in print and online; DOI

“Archaeological Investigations at Pecica Santul Mare, 2006-2009.” Analele Banatului, S.N., Arheologie-Istorie, XIX, 2011, pp. 67-78.  Muzeul Banatului, Timisoara, Romania (with John M. O’Shea, Laura Motta, and Alexandru Szentmiklosi) 2011.

“Exhibiting Archaeology: Archaeology in Museums.” Annual Review of Anthropology 39:293-308, 2010.

“Obsidian Procurement at Pecica Santul Mare, Romania.”  Muse 43:19-30 (with Corinne Rosania) 2010.

Preface.  In The Voyage of a Contemporary Italian Goldsmith in the Classical World: Golden Treasures by Akelo, pp. vi-vii. Columbia: Museum of Art and Archaeology, University of Missouri 2010.

“Curating Archaeological Collections.” In Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science, 3rd edition; print and online, edited by Marcia J. Bates and Mary Niles Maack; London: Taylor and Francis Group 2009.

“Museums, Antiquities and the Ethics of Collecting Cultural Property,” Anthropology News 50(7):53, 2009.

“An Association-Wide Ethics Discussion,” Anthropology News 50(3): 29, 2009 (with Dena Plemmons).

"Chiefdoms." In Handbook of Archaeological Theory, pp. 515-532, 2008. Altamira Press, Walnut Creek, CA. Ed. Maschner, Herb, Bentley, Alex, and Chippendale, Christopher.

"Perspectives on the Philosophical Foundations of Archaeological Ethics," Journal of European Archaeology, Vol. 9(2) 2007, pp. 277-279.

"Building a US Committee of the Blue Shield to Protect Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict," Anthropology News, Vol. 48(8) 2007, pp. 17.

"The Complexities of the Peer Review System," Anthropology News, Vol. 48(5) 2007, pp. 5.

"Guidelines for the Responsible Acquisition of Antiquities and Cultural Property, "Anthropology News, Vol. 48(3) 2007, pp. 22-23.

"Human Remains: Guide for Museums and Academic Institutions" (review) (edited by Vicki Cassman, Nancy Odegaard, and Joseph Powell), American Anthropologist, Vol. 109(3) 2007, pp. 551-552.

"Preface I: Art of the Book." In Art of the Book: Illustration and Design 1650 to Present, pp. 5-6, 2006. Missouri. Museum of Art & Archaeology & University Libraries, University of Missouri-Columbia, Columbia.

"Ethics, E-Commerce and the Future of the Past." In Archaeology, Relics and the Law, pp. 373-376, 2006. Carolina Academic Press, Durham, North Carolina. Ed. Cunningham, Richard.

John O’Shea, Alex Barker, Amy Nicodemus, Sarah Sherwood, Alexandru Szentmiklosi. Archaeological Investigations at Pecica Santul Mare: The 2006 Campaign, Analele Banatului, S.N., Arheologie-Istorie, Vol. XIV, 2006, pp. 211-228.

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Galleries CLOSED due to current community health concerns

"I still remember the feeling of awe and disbelief when I was alone and walked in the room with those casts." --Ruth Tofle, chair of architecture, winner of the 2013 distinguished faculty award from the MU Alumni Association