Matthew Johnson

Matthew Johnson

Fellow: Awarded 2019
Field of Study: Anthropology and Cultural Studies

Competition: US & Canada

Matthew Johnson works on the archaeology and history of Europe and the Atlantic world. He has written six books on a range of themes, including castles, traditional houses, landscape, and an archaeology of capitalism. His best known book is an introduction to archaeological theory. He has also written more widely on interdisciplinary and interpretive approaches, understanding medieval and historical archaeology, and archaeology in its cultural context.

He most recently worked ‘in the field’ at Bodiam Castle and nearby houses and landscapes in southeastern England. Bodiam is an iconic site, termed a ‘fairytale castle’ by visitors. It has been a classic study in debates over society and culture in the later Middle Ages. The collaborative Anglo-American project explored the castle and its surroundings as a living landscape of people of different social classes and identities. Places like Bodiam are best understood as a series of scales, ranging from the action of washing hands in the chapel piscina through to their setting within global and postcolonial networks.

Matthew was born in Austin, Texas, and is a dual US/British citizen. He has held visiting fellowships and positions at UC-Berkeley, Heidelberg University, UCLA, Flinders University, University of Cambridge, and the University of Pennsylvania. After a PhD at Cambridge and posts at Sheffield, Durham and Southampton, he returned across the Atlantic in 2011 to be Professor and sometime Chair of Anthropology at Northwestern University.

As a Guggenheim fellow, he will write a book on the archaeology of the English in the Atlantic world in the second millennium CE. He traces material landscapes and identities from the English Middle Ages, through the feudal settlements of Wales, Scotland and Ireland, to the plantations and colonies of New England, Virginia and the Caribbean. His aim is to explore the landscapes, buildings and objects that people made and used, and how these were bound up with the changing identities of the English and their neighbors over the very long term.

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