Dr. HELAINE SILVERMAN is Professor in the Department of Anthropology and Director of CHAMP/Collaborative for Cultural Heritage Management and Policy (champ.anthro.illinois.edu) at the University of Illinois. She is also an affiliate of the Campus Honors Program, Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Center for Global Studies, European Union Center, Department of Landscape Architecture and Department of Recreation, Sport and Tourism.
Dr. Silverman holds a BA in Anthropology from Queens College of the City University of New York, MA in Anthropology from Columbia University, and PhD in Anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin.
For almost thirty years her research focused on the archaeology of the south coast of Peru, with excavations and survey in the Río Grande de Nazca drainage and in the Pisco Valley. She is an expert in a pre-Columbian culture known as Nasca. The ancient Nasca are (in)famous for the giant ground markings (“geoglyphs”) they traced on the desert plain (pampa) of this region. Her research, however, was always focused off the pampa and directed at the people who had lived on the south coast in the first millennium AD.
As a result of persistent media attention to her research she became intrigued by public interest in the past and how Peru deploys its ancient civilizations for the construction of national identity and the promotion of tourism. This led her into critical heritage studies.
Dr. Silverman’s heritage research focuses on the ethnographic investigation of “the past in the present” (“social archaeology”) She is interested in the cooperative and conflictual production of archaeological monuments and living historic urban centers as heritage sites for visual, performative, economic and political consumption as undertaken by national governments, regional authorities, local administrations, community stakeholders, and the global tourism industry. She conducts research in Peru, England and the United States, punctuated by a brief project in Thalland.
She is an Expert Member of ICOMOS’ International Committee on Archaeological Heritage Management (ICAHM) and ICOMOS’s International Scientific Committee on Cultural Tourism (ICTC). She has consulted for UNESCO on World Heritage nominations and has been involved with the nomination of several U.S. archaeological sites to the World Heritage List. In addition to her own publications she is the co-editor of two book series: “Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Archaeological Heritage Management” (Springer) and “Heritage, Tourism and Community” (Routledge). She currently serves on the editorial boards of International Journal of Heritage Studies, Heritage & Society, World Art, Thema, and Built Heritage. She is a past editor-in-chief of the flagship journal Latin American Antiquity (Society for American Archaeology), and served on the editorial boards of American Anthropologist (American Anthropological Association) and Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology, among others.
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