Associate Professor Stephen Brighton joined the Department of Anthropology in 2005, and organizes an archaeological field school each summer in rural Ireland. He completed a B.A. in Anthropology at Montclair State University, New Jersey, in 1992, and received his Ph.D. from Boston University in 2005. His dissertation, An Historical Archaeology of the Irish Proletarian Diaspora: The Material Manifestations of Irish Identity in America, 1850-1910, is an anthropologically based study on the transnational history and historical archaeology of pre-Famine rural Ireland and Irish immigrant and Irish-American communities in New York City and Paterson, New Jersey. Dr. Brighton's research areas include northeast North America, Ireland, and the Scottish highlands, with specializations in anthropologically based approaches to the archaeology of diaspora, colonialism, the emergence and influence of capitalism and urbanization, immigration history, social identity (i.e., race, class, ethnicity, gender, and age) and heritage formation and nationalism, material culture studies, vernacular architecture, and contemporary theory in archaeology.

In 2002 he was awarded the Helen G. Allen Humanities Award by the Humanities Foundation of the College of Arts and Sciences and Graduate School of Boston University, and in 1998 he was awarded a research fellowship working on Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century Vernacular Architecture of Massachusetts for the Department of Preservation at Boston University.

Dr. Brighton has been awarded two General Research Board grants for his research program studying Irish immigrant and Irish-American material culture in Texas, Maryland. In 2011, he was award the Dean’s Research Collaborative grant to conduct a ground penetrating radar survey on the proposed site of an Irish immigrant laboring shanty settlement.

Dr. Brighton contributed two chapters to Unearthing Hidden Ireland: Historical Archaeology in County Roscommon, edited by Dr. Charles Orser, Jr. He also wrote “Symbolism, Myth-Making, and Identity: The Red Hand of Ulster in Nineteenth- Century Paterson, New Jersey,” for the International Journal of Historical Archaeology (8 [2], 2004); “Prices That Suit the Times: Shopping for Ceramics at the Five Points,” in Historical Archaeology (35 [3], 2001); and “The Rhetoric of Temperence,” (with Paul Reckner) in Historical Archaeology (33[1], 1999).

Dr. Brighton continues to publish his research on the Irish Diaspora in American and community collaboration. His book Historical Archaeology of the Irish Diaspora: A Transnational Approach came out in 2009 through the University of Tennessee Press.

In addition to his published work Dr. Brighton has presented over 15 papers at conferences and public fora and has produced 5 technical reports based on his field work in Ireland and in New York City.

Dr. Brighton's research interests are social histories and physical evidence of the Irish Diaspora and Irish-American heritage.


Papers by Dr. Brighton:



Additional Links of interest for Dr. Brighton:

Information on the Irish Diaspora in Maryland

Information on Dr. Brighton's 2016 Field School


Areas of Interest

  • Diaspora studies, social identity, heritage formation, contemporary archaeological theory; Northeastern USA, rural Ireland, trans-Atlantic region
CV: BrightonCV2013.pdf45.25 KB

Current Students

Related Students (Listed by Student on Student's Profile)

  • Andrew Webster
Stephen Brighton
0101 Woods Hall
Department of Anthropology
sbrighto [at]