Rebecca S. Graff

Rebecca Sara Graff


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Visiting Assistant Professor of Anthropology

  • PhD, University of Chicago, 2011 (Anthropology)
  • MA, University of Chicago, 2001 (Anthropology)
  • BA, University of California, Berkeley, 1999 (Anthropology)


As a historical archaeologist with research interests in the 19th- and 20th-century urban United States, I explore the relationship between temporality and modernity, memory and material culture, tourism, and nostalgic consumption through archaeological and archival research. My dissertation, “The Vanishing City: Time, Tourism, and the Archaeology of Event at Chicago’s 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition,” was based on an archaeological and archival project focusing on the ephemeral “White City” and Midway Plaisance of the 1893 Chicago Fair. This project was supported by the College, Department of Anthropology, and the Women’s Board of the University of Chicago, and by a Scherer Center Dissertation Year Fellowship from Karla Scherer Center for the Study of American Culture, University of Chicago. I have directed several archaeological projects in Chicago, most recently at the Louis Sullivan-designed Charnley-Persky House; a second excavation season is planned for summer 2014.

I earned my PhD in Anthropology from the University of Chicago in 2011. I hold a BA in Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley and an MA in Anthropology from the University of Chicago. At the University of Chicago, I taught undergraduate and graduate students as a preceptor and instructor in the Master of Arts Program in the Social Sciences (MAPSS), and explored classic readings in social science theory as an instructor in the Social Sciences Collegiate Division. I have directed or co-directed four archaeological undergraduate field schools for DePaul University and the University of Chicago. In 2013 I was honored to win the Kathleen Kirk Gilmore Dissertation Award from the Society for Historical Archaeology (SHA), and am currently working on a volume to be published through the SHA.

Areas of Expertise

  • Historical archaeology
  • Urban archaeology (19th- and 20th century)
  • Archaeology of time and temporality
  • Archaeology of tourism
  • Modern and contemporary material culture
  • World’s Fairs and Expositions

Recent Publications

  • Graff, Rebecca S. (2012). Dream City, Plaster City: World’s Fairs and the Gilding of American Material Culture. International Journal of Historical Archaeology 16(4): 696-716. Special Volume on Gilded Age Archaeology, Charles Orser, ed.
  • Graff, Rebecca S. (2011). Being Toured While Digging Tourism: Excavating Chicago’s 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. International Journal of Historical Archaeology 15(2): 222-235. Special Volume on the Archaeology of Travel and Tourism, Maria O’Donovan and Lynda Carroll, eds.

Recent Funding

  • American Midwest Foodways Scholar’s Grant ($1500) for the project Fair-as-Foodway: Culinary Worlds and Modernizing Tastes at Chicago’s 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition (with Megan E. Edwards, University of Chicago). From the Greater Midwest Foodways Alliance, Culinary Historians of Chicago, and the Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts.