University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Department of Anthropology

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Christopher C. Fennell

Associate Professor, University Scholar of Anthropology, Center for African Studies, African American Studies, Landscape Architecture, and Law

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  • Office:
    Department of Anthropology
    607 S Mathews Ave.
    M/C 148
    Urbana, IL 61801
  • Phone: (217) 333-3616; cell (312) 513-2683
  • Email:

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Office Hours

  • Tuesday, Thursday, 1:30pm to 3:00pm, or by appointment


Editorial Positions

Special Issue Of A Journal

  • "New Philadelphia: Racism, Community, and the Illinois Frontier," editor (with Terrance J. Martin and Paul A. Shackel) of a special thematic issue in "Historical Archaeology" journal, Vol. 44, No. 1: 1-157 (2010).
  • "Manifestations of Magic: The Archaeology and Material Culture of Folk Religion," editor (with M. Chris Manning) of a special thematic issue of "Historical Archaeology" journal, Vol. 48, No. 3: 1-200 (2014).

Professional Memberships

  • Member, Board of Directors, Society for Historical Archaeology, 2012-2015
  • Member, Executive Committee, Collaborative for Cultural Heritage Management and Policy

Specializations / Research Interest(s)

  • Historical archaeology, trans-Atlantic comparative studies, African diaspora studies, legal anthropology


  • Phd, University of Virginia, 2003. JD, Georgetown University, 1989. MA, University of Pennsylvania, 1986.

Distinctions / Awards

  • Award for Distinguished Service 2012-2013, Department of Anthropology, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
  • Gustave O. Arlt Award recipient, 2010, for outstanding contribution to scholarship in the humanities, awarded by the Council for Graduate Schools
  • John L. Cotter Award recipient, 2009, for outstanding scholarly achievement in African diaspora studies, awarded by the Society for Historical Archaeology.
  • University of Illinois, included in List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent for seven courses; voted outstanding Anthropology Faculty member by the Undergraduate Anthropology Students Association.
  • University Scholar, 2014-2017, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign


  • Cultural Creativity, History & Heritage in Edgefield, South Carolina, 2013, as Project Director, supported by a grant from the Humanities Council of South Carolina and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
  • Archaeological and Historical Examination of a Nationalist Mythology of an Authentic Irish Past, 2013.
  • Community Informatics Initiative, Civic Engagement among Descendant and Local Communities of New Philadelphia, 2008-2009
  • Memory and Heart: Pasts and Presents of African American Communities, 2011, as Project Director, supported by a grant from the Illinois Humanities Council, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Illinois General Assembly.
  • National Science Foundation, Research Experiences for Undergraduates, New Philadelphia Archaeology Project, 2008-2012
  • New Philadelphia Archaeology and the Digital Archaeological Record, 2011, as Principal Investigator, awarded by the Digital Antiquity initiative.
  • Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Faculty Fellowship, 2006-2007; among others
  • National Center for Preservation Training and Technology, Aerial Thermal Survey of New Philadelphia, 2008




  • Revealing Landscapes. Comp. Christopher Fennell. Tucson: Society for Historical Archaeology, 2011.
  • African Diaspora Archaeology. Comp. Christopher Fennell. Tucson: Society for Historical Archaeology, 2008.
  • Fennell, Christopher. Crossroads and Cosmologies: Diasporas and Ethnogenesis in the New World. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2007.

Book Contributions

  • Fennell, Christopher C. "Dexterous Creation: Material Manifestations of Instrumental Symbolism in the Americas." Materialities of Ritual in the Black Atlantic. Ed. Akinwumi Ogundiran and Paula Saunders. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2014. 216-235.
  • Fennell, Christopher. "Fighting Despair: Challenges of a Comparative, Global Framework for Slavery Studies." The Archaeology of Slavery: A Comparative Approach to Captivity and Coercion. Ed. Lydia M. Wilson. Carbondale, Illinois: Southern Illinois University Press, 2014. 391-399.
  • Fennell, Christopher. "Cultural Creativity, Rebellions, and Comparative Questions for Afro-Brazilian Archaeology." Current Perspectives on the Archaeology of African Slavery in Latin America. Ed. Pedro P. Funari and Charles E. Orser. New York: Springer, 2014. 99-116.
  • Fennell, Christopher C. "Kongo and the Archaeology of Early African America." Kongo Across the Waters. Ed. Susan Cooksey, Robin Poynor, and Hein Vanhee. Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 2013. 231-239.
  • Fennell, Christopher. "Carved, Inscribed, and Resurgent: Cultural and Natural Terrains as Analytic Challenges." Revealing Landscapes. Ed. Christopher Fennell. Tucson: Society for Historical Archaeology, 2011. 1-11.
  • Fennell, Christopher. "Examining Structural Racism in the Jim Crow Era of Illinois." The Materiality of Freedom: Archaeologies of Post-Emancipation Life. Ed. Jodi Barnes. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2011. 173-189.
  • Fennell, Christopher. "Combating Attempts of Elision: African American Accomplishments at New Philadelphia, Illinois." Intangible Heritage Embodied. New York: Springer, 2009. 147-168 .
  • Fennell, Christopher. "African Diaspora Archaeology in Multiscalar and Multivariate Perspectives." African Diaspora Archaeology. Ed. Christopher Fennell. Tucson: Society for Historical Archaeology, 2008. 1-25.
  • Fennell, Christopher . "BaKongo Identity and Symbolic Expression in the Americas." The Archaeology of Atlantic Africa and the African Diaspora. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2007. 210-50.

Journal Articles

  • Fennell, Christopher. "Artifacts to Invoke, Direct, and Deflect." Historical Archaeology 48.3 (2014): 196-200.
  • Fennell, Christopher. "Introductory Statement." Journal of African Diaspora Archaeology and Heritage 1.1 (2012): 5-8.
  • Fennell, Christopher, and Kathryn Fay. "Paradoxes in Designs for a National Historic Landmark's Presentation." Museums & Social Issues 7.2 (2012): 323-340.
  • Fennell, Christopher. "Early African America: Archaeological Studies of Significance and Diversity." Journal of Archaeological Research 19.1 (2011): 1-49.
  • Fennell, Christopher. "Literate Inversions and Cultural Metaphors in Edgefield Stoneware." Historical Archaeology 45.2 (2011): 156-162.
  • Fennell, Christopher. "Damaging Detours: Routes, Racism and New Philadelphia." Historical Archaeology 44.1 (2010): 138-154.
  • Fennell, Christopher. "Excavating Strata of Memory and Forgetting." SAA Archaeological Record 8.1 (2008): 17-21.
  • Fennell, Christopher. "Group Identity, Individual Creativity and Symbolic Generation in a BaKongo Diaspora." International Journal of Historical Archaeology 7.1 (2003): 1-31.
  • Fennell, Christopher, and Lee A. Fennell. "Fear and Greed in Tax Policy: A Qualitative Research Agenda." Washington University Journal of Law and Policy 13 (2003): 75-138 .
  • Fennell, Christopher. "Molded Malevolence: Instrumental Symbolism Rendered in Clay." Ceramics in America 3 (2003): 270-273.
  • Fennell, Christopher. "Assessing Criticisms of Faunal Analyses and Environmental Reconstructions in the Tehuacan Valley Project." Human Ecology: An Interdisciplinary Journal 29.3 (2001): 349-359.
  • Fennell, Christopher. "Conjuring Boundaries: Inferring Past Identities from Religious Artifacts." International Journal of Historical Archaeology 4.4 (2000): 281-313.

Encyclopedia Entries

  • Fennell, Christopher. "African Diaspora Archaeology." Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology. New York: Springer Press, 2012.
  • Fennell, Christopher. "African Diaspora Archaeology Network." Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology. New York: Springer Press, 2012.


  • "Grand Plans and Local Subversions: Ethnic and Racial Dynamics in Virginia and Illinois," book manuscript under peer review by University Press of Florida.
  • "Introduction: Navigating Intersections in African Diaspora Archaeology," article in thematic issue entitled "Challenging Theories of Racism, Diaspora, and Agency in African America," edited by William A. White III, accepted after peer review by "Historical Archaeology" journal.
  • "Conclusions: African-American Social Dynamics," chapter in "Seated at the Same Table: Archaeologies of African-American Life in the Upper Mid-Atlantic," edited by Michael J. Gall and Richard F. Veit, University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa (in preparation).
  • "Architecture and Landscape Art," (with Shawn Fields and Rebecca Schumann) chapter in "The Routledge Handbook of the American South," edited by Maggi M. Morehouse, Routledge, New York (in preparation).