Meredith Linn

Faculty Member

Bard Graduate Center

Assistant Professor, Director of Masters Studies

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My field of study is historical archaeology, a discipline that uses method and theory from anthropology, history, and the natural sciences to investigate the development of the modern world through its physical traces. I am most interested in how and what material objects can tell us about the lived experiences of people neglected or misrepresented in written records.

My research has focused most upon nineteenth-century New York City, in the context of two long-term projects. The first, my dissertation, examined the health-related experiences and strategies of Irish immigrants in New York City, including how these newcomers utilized both familiar and new substances in healing and in manipulating their appearances. Additionally, I investigated how American interpretations of the particular ailments that afflicted Irish immigrants reinforced or reduced (depending on the affliction) notions of Irish racial difference. I have published articles related to this project and will soon complete a book with the working title, From “Irish Fever” to “The White Death”: A Visceral Historical Archaeology of Irish Immigrant Life in New York City 1845-1870.

The second major project is a collaborative study of the nearly forgotten site of Seneca Village, an important nineteenth-century majority African American community that was displaced by the city in 1857 by right of eminent domain to build Central Park. The report from the 2011 excavation (co-authored with Nan Rothschild and Diana diZerega Wall) will be available soon, and additional publications for scholars and the public are forthcoming.

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