Barbara Voss

Barbara Voss (born 1967) is an American historical archaeologist. Her work focuses on cross-cultural encounters, particularly the Spanish colonization of the Americas and Overseas Chinese communities in the 19th century, as well as queer theory in archaeology and gender archaeology. She is an associate professor of anthropology at Stanford University.

Barbara Voss
Born1967 (age 5152)
OccupationArchaeologist, academic
Academic background
Academic work
DisciplineHistorical archaeology
InstitutionsStanford University


Voss graduated with a BA from Stanford University in 1988, where she earned the Michelle Rosaldo Prize for Research in Feminist Anthropology (1987), the Presidential Award for Academic Excellence (1986, 1987), and the Boothe Prize (1986).[1] In 2002, after working as a field archaeologist for some years, she obtained a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. Her dissertation was entitled The Archaeology of El Presidio de San Francisco: Culture Contact, Gender, and Ethnicity in a Spanish-colonial Military Community.[2]

Since 2001, Voss has taught at Stanford.[1]


Voss's early research focused on both the Spanish colonization of the Americas, as well as gender and sexuality studies.[3] In her work on the Spanish-colonial military settlement of El Presidio de San Francisco, Voss showed how the regulation of sex was an important part of Spanish colonization.[4] In 2008, Voss was a recipient of the Ruth Benedict Prize, for her book, The Archaeology of Ethnogenesis: Race and Sexuality in Colonial San Francisco. In 2000, she and Robert Schmidt won the prize for the edited anthology, Archaeologies of Sexuality. The Ruth Benedict is awarded each year by the American Anthropological Association for the best scholarly book written from an anthropological perspective about a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender topic.[5]

Voss's current work focuses on 19th century migration to the United States from southern China. Since 2002, Voss has served as the director of the Market Street Chinatown Archaeology Project, a community archaeology project investigating a historical Overseas Chinese enclave in San Jose, California. She also the Director of Archaeology for a multidisciplinary study, the Chinese Railroad Workers of North America Project.[6]

In her work on Chinatowns, Voss has critiqued a tendency toward Orientalism in previous scholarship, in which Chinese immigrants are seen as always engaged in the a conflict between a 'traditional' East and a 'modern' West. Questioning the stereotype of Chinatowns as insular and traditional, she has argued that this assumption has limited conclusions about these communities to questions of assimilation and acculturation. For Voss, the boundaries between Chinatowns and their surrounding communities have always been fluid, with close interactions between Chinese and non-Chinese residents.[7] Voss has also argued for a transpacific archaeology which traces the global connections between Chinatowns in the Americas, other Overseas Chinese communities, and China.[8]


In the wake of the 2016 U.S Presidential election, Voss established 'Archaeologists for a Just Future', a Facebook-based advocacy group "dedicated to activism that fights against specific threats to cultural resources, diversity, and civil liberties". The group currently has over 4700 members.[9]

Selected Publications


  • Voss, Barbara (2018). "The Archaeology of Precarious Lives: Chinese Railroad Workers in Nineteenth-Century North America". Current Anthropology. 58 (3): 297–313.
  • Voss, Barbara (2018). "Every element of womanhood with which to make life a curse or blessing": Missionary Women's Accounts of Chinese American Women's Lives in Nineteenth-century Pre-Exclusion California". Journal of Asian American Studies. 21 (1): 105–134. doi:10.1353/jaas.2018.0004.
  • Voss, Barbara (2015). "What's new? Rethinking ethnogenesis in the archaeology of colonialism". American Antiquity. 80 (4): 655–670. doi:10.7183/0002-7316.80.4.655.
  • Voss, Barbara (2012). "Status and ceramics in Spanish colonial archaeology". Historical Archaeology. 46 (2): 39–54. doi:10.1007/bf03377315.
  • Voss, Barbara (2008). "Domesticating imperialism: sexual politics and the archaeology of empire". American Anthropologist. 110 (2): 191–203. doi:10.1111/j.1548-1433.2008.00025.x.
  • Voss, Barbara (2000). "Feminisms, queer theories, and the archaeological study of past sexualities". World Archaeologies. 32 (2): 180–192. doi:10.1080/00438240050131171.


  • Voss, Barbara (2015). The Archaeology of Ethnogenesis: Race and Sexuality in Colonial San Francisco. University Press of Florida. p. 432. ISBN 978-0813061252.
  • Voss, Barbara; Casella, Eleanor, eds. (2011). The Archaeology of Colonialism: Intimate Encounters and Sexual Effects. Cambridge University Press. p. 368. ISBN 978-1107401266.
  • Voss, Barbara; Schmidt, Robert A. (2000). Archaeologies of Sexuality. Routledge. p. 320. ISBN 978-0415223669.


  1. "Barbara L. Voss' Profile | Stanford Profiles". Retrieved 2017-05-09.
  2. Voss, Barbara. (2002). The Archaeology of El Presidio de San Francisco: Culture Contact, Gender, and Ethnicity in a Spanish-Colonial Military Community. (Ph.D). University of California, Berkeley.
  3. "Barbara Voss | Department of Anthropology". Retrieved 2017-05-09.
  4. 1953-, Schmidt, Robert A.; 1967-, Voss, Barbara L. (2007-01-01). Archaeologies of sexuality. Routledge. ISBN 9780415223652. OCLC 503039115.
  5. "The Ruth Benedict Prize". The Association for Queer Anthropology. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  6. "Market Street Chinatown Archaeological Project". Retrieved 2017-05-09.
  7. Voss, Barbara L. (2005-09-01). "The archaeology of Overseas Chinese communities". World Archaeology. 37 (3): 424–439. doi:10.1080/00438240500168491. ISSN 0043-8243.
  8. Voss, Barbara L.; Allen, Rebecca (2008-09-01). "Overseas Chinese Archaeology: Historical Foundations, Current Reflections, and New Directions". Historical Archaeology. 42 (3): 16–17. doi:10.1007/BF03377096. ISSN 0440-9213.
  9. "Archaeologists for a Just Future". Facebook. Retrieved 3 December 2018.
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