John Chenoweth

  • Assistant Professor, Anthropology Program, Dept of Behavioral Sciences, University of Michigan-Dearborn
John Chenoweth
  • Email:
  • Phone: 313.583.6368
  • Office: 4029 CASL, UM-Dearborn, 4901 Evergreen Road, Dearborn, MI 48128
  • Ph.D. 2011, University of California-Berkeley
  • CV

Research Interests


  • Historical Archaeology
  • Archaeology of Religion, particularly but not exclusively Quakerism
  • Archaeological Method and Theory, particularly Practice Theory and Social Identity
  • Archaeology of the African Diaspora
  • Contemporary Archaeology
  • Plantation Archaeology
  • Materials Analysis and GIS


  • Caribbean
  • Eastern United States

Research Projects

  • Free Africans in the British Virgin Islands, 1776-1900: Race, Religion, and Power
  • Becoming Industrial: Social implications of change in Michigan 1830-1930
  • Materials Analysis: Evaluation of historic ceramics and other typologies, using reflectance spectrophotometry, chemical characterization, porosity, and other replicable measurements
  • Contemporary Archaeology: Several projects studying the modern world with the theoretical and methodological perspectives of archaeology, particularly understandings of nature and culture, and the material aspects of religion

Research Description

John M. Chenoweth is an anthropologist and historical archaeologist studying the archaeology of religion, social identity, practice theory, and the negotiation of conflicts between religion, race, and class. His work combines archaeological and documentary evidence to understand daily life and has focused on the Caribbean, especially the British Virgin Islands and their interactions across the Atlantic World. Recent work includes a focus on members of the Religious Society of Friends ("Quakers") in the 1740s and 1750s who, despite ideals of equality and pacifism, held enslaved Africans. Another project aims to explore the interaction of religion, race, and colonialism by studying the site of Kingstown, Tortola, a settlement of free Africans who were never enslaved, but who were surrounded by an oppressive society and centered their community on the Anglican Church.

Closer to home, he has initiated a multi-year project entitled "Becoming Industrial" aimed at analyzing social and religious aspects of the major changes which swept through Michigan between its relatively homogenous frontier beginnings and its becoming a diverse industrial center by 1930. This begins in the Fall of 2015 with a field school at the "Free Church" site in Superior township, headquarters for an ideologically-diverse community from 1850-1910.

Recent projects also include a contemporary archaeological study of understandings of "nature" and "culture" and their impact on environmentalism in National Parks, and the study of color in 18th and 19th century refined earthenwares using spectrophotometric analysis.

He received his PhD in Anthropology from the University of California-Berkeley (2011) and also holds an MA in Anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania (2006). Most recently he was a post-doctoral fellow at Stanford University's IHUM/Thinking Matters program and a lecturer in Stanford's Anthropology Department (2011-2013). Since Fall 2013 he has been Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Michigan-Dearborn.