Kathryn Lafrenz Samuels is Associate Professor and Director of the Cultural and Heritage Resource Management graduate program in the Department of Anthropology. She also serves as Editor for the journal Conservation and Management of Archaeological Sites. She received her PhD in Anthropology from Stanford University, building on a master's degree in Public Archaeology from the University of South Florida, and a bachelor's degree in Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology from Bryn Mawr College. Much of her work integrates archaeology and sociocultural anthropology around issues of cultural heritage, focusing on the transnational contexts of heritage, in the areas of international economic development, transnational industry, human rights, democracy building, and global climate change. Her current research projects center on the nexus between cultural heritage and climate change, including interests in biodiversity loss as well as the persuasive capacity of heritage to mobilize change in democratic societies. Dr. Lafrenz Samuels’ work has been supported by the American Council of Learned Societies, the American Institute of Maghrib Studies, the US-Norway Fulbright Foundation, and the National Science Foundation.

Current research projects include:

Anthropogenic: The Cultural Heritage of Climate Change examines the heritage of human-caused climate change, through the historic resources and material infrastructure of carbon-based energy exploration, extraction, and exploitation in the United States and Europe. Rather than being simply or only a history of humankind’s contributions to climate change, this project connects the historical development of anthropogenic climate change with responses to climate change in the present, and how the past becomes mobilized within current debates on "what to do." A heritage-centered account of the contingent trajectories of anthropogenic climate change is much needed, not simply to underline that indeed climate change is caused by humans, but to make plain that climate change has been authored by specific societies, classes, and industries at the expense of others. The differential responsibilities and vulnerabilities involved--for example, the fundamental 'paradox' that those societies historically most responsible for climate change will be the least impacted, whereas those historically least responsible will be the most impacted--require an approach that connects past and present and privileges both within the same analytical frame, telling these histories and narratives in textural detail. Further, this project advances cultural heritage as an incisive analytical lens for grappling with climate change, given the instrumental character of heritage as a social tool for managing change.

Heritage Landscapes and Agrobiodiversity under Climate Change (with Joshua Samuels, Catholic University of America) integrates methods of landscape archaeology and heritage ethnography to investigate the impacts of climate change on traditional agricultural practices and heritage landscapes in several vinicultural landscapes in Italy. Viniculture is at the frontline in witnessing the impacts of climate change to agricultural production, being especially vulnerable to climate change given the particular sensitivity of wine grapes to climate fluctuations. The wine industry in Europe is predicted to be hit particularly hard compared to other wine regions in the world. The suitability of cultivation for present grape varietals is expected to shift to higher latitudes and altitudes, a change that strikes a blow to the heart of the concept of terroir, a concept developed specifically to characterize the European wine-making tradition. The project focuses on the implications of climate change for agrobiodiversity; adaptive management responses for safeguarding agricultural heritage resources; and opportunities for climate communication through Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) and UNESCO World Heritage cultural landscapes.

Climate Footprints of Heritage Tourism (with Ellen Platts, UMD) is a pilot study for developing a climate communication recognition scheme (CCRS) for UNESCO World Heritage Sites, to explore the communicative power of heritage to mobilize stakeholders around climate mitigation and adaptation. Such a scheme might influence site management and tourist decision-making for increased sustainability in the context of global climate change by increasing climate awareness among visitors and bringing the global crisis of climate change to a personal scale. The project assesses four dimensions for the CCRS: carbon footprint data, narrative potential, sustainability practices, and the impacts of climate change on heritage resources. This project builds on the "branding" value of World Heritage in its development of a CCRS, set against the backdrop of increasing tourism, including the doubling of international air travel in the next 15-20 years, and the implications of this growth for climate change. The CCRS has been developed into an ArcGIS StoryMap featuring 50 World Heritage Sites: https://heritageofclimate.com.





Selected Publications:


In prep. Anthropogenic: The Cultural Heritage of Climate Change.

2023. (with J.D. Daehnke) Heritage and Democracy: Crisis, Critique, and Collaboration. Gainesville: University Press of Florida. Link

2018. Mobilizing Heritage: Anthropological Practice and Transnational Prospects. Gainesville: University Press of Florida. Link

2015. (with T. Rico) Heritage Keywords: Rhetoric and Redescription in Cultural Heritage. Boulder: University Press of Colorado. Link (review) (review) (review)

2012. (with D. Totten) Making Roman Places: Past and Present. Journal of Roman Archaeology Supplement Series 89. Portsmouth, RI: JRA. Link (review)

Technical Reports

2016. (with A. Markham, E. Osipova, and A. Caldas) World Heritage and Tourism in a Changing Climate. Nairobi/Paris: UNEP & UNESCO. Link

Journal Issues Edited

2017. (with T. Rico) Biodiversity and Cultural Heritage Under Global Climate Change. Culture, Agriculture, Food and Environment (CAFE) vol. 39(2). Link

2007. (with S. De Vivo and D. Totten) Cultures of Contact: Archaeology, Ethics, and Globalization. Stanford Journal of Archaeology vol. 5. Link

Articles and Chapters

2023. (with J.D. Daehnke) "Heritage and Democracy: Crisis, Critique, and Collaboration." In Heritage and Democracy: Crisis, Critique, and Collaboration, K. Lafrenz Samuels and J.D. Daehnke, editors, pp. 7–31. Gainesville: University Press of Florida.

2023. (with B. Foster Bhusari) "Public Reason after Charlottesville: Heritage, Memes, and the Far Right." In Heritage and Democracy: Crisis, Critique, and Collaboration, K. Lafrenz Samuels and J.D. Daehnke, editors, pp. 174–191. Gainesville: University Press of Florida.

2023. (with J.D. Daehnke) "Heritage and the Incompleteness of Democracy: Challenges and Opportunities." In Heritage and Democracy: Crisis, Critique, and Collaboration, K. Lafrenz Samuels and J.D. Daehnke, editors, pp. 251–263. Gainesville: University Press of Florida.

2023. (with E.J. Platts and H.L. Keifer) Carbon Footprints of Travel to World Heritage Sites: Communicating Climate to Potential Tourists through a Consumption-based Life-cycle Assessment. Journal of Heritage Tourism. DOI: 10.1080/1743873X.2023.2171297

2022. (with E.J. Platts) Global Climate Change and UNESCO World Heritage. International Journal of Cultural Property 29(4): 409-432. Link

2020. (with E.J. Platts) An Ecolabel for the World Heritage Brand? Developing a Climate Communication Recognition Scheme for Heritage Sites. Climate 8(3), 38 (1–16). Link

2019. "Heritage Development: Culture and Heritage at the World Bank," in The Cultural Turn in International Aid: Impacts and Challenges for Heritage and the Creative Industries, S. Labadi, editor, pp. 55–72. Abingdon/New York: Routledge. Link

2019. (with P. van Dommelen) "Punic Heritage in Tunisia," in Oxford Handbook of the Phoenician and Punic Mediterranean, C. López-Ruiz and B. Doak, editors, pp. 729–742. New York: Oxford University Press. Link

2019. Commentary – From Determinism to Accountability: Archaeology, Anthropology, and Ethics. Archaeological Dialogues 26(1): 14–17. Link

2019. Deliberate Heritage: Difference and Disagreement After Charlottesville. The Public Historian 41(1): 121–132. Link

2017. New Challenges for Cultural Heritage: Supporting Biodiversity in the Face of Climate Change [Introduction to Special Issue "Cultural Heritage, Biodiversity, and Climate Change"]. Culture, Agriculture, Food and Environment (CAFE) 39(2): 69–71. Link

2017. Biodiversity in World Heritage Cultural Landscapes: Possibilities and Problems for Communicating Climate Change and Mobilizing Mitigation. Culture, Agriculture, Food and Environment (CAFE) 39(2): 116–126. Link

2017. Commentary – Climate Archaeology: New Paradigms for Changing Times. Archaeological Review from Cambridge 32(2): 222–228. Link

2016. (with M. Ferrer Martin) "Women's Ritual Practice in the Western Phoenician and Punic World," in Women in Antiquity: Real Women Across the Ancient World, S. Budin and J. Turfa, editors, pp. 533–552. London: Routledge.

2016. Transnational Turns for Archaeological Heritage: From Conservation to Development, Governments to Governance. Journal of Field Archaeology 41(3): 355–367. Link

2016. The Cadence of Climate: Heritage Proxies and Social Change. Journal of Social Archaeology 16(2): 142–163. Link

2015. "Introduction: Heritage as Persuasion," in Heritage Keywords: Rhetoric and Redescription in Cultural Heritage, K. Lafrenz Samuels and T. Rico, editors, pp. 3–28. Boulder: University Press of Colorado. Link

2015. "Heritage Rights and the Rhetoric of Reality in Pre-Revolution Tunisia," in Heritage Keywords: Rhetoric and Redescription in Cultural Heritage, K. Lafrenz Samuels and T. Rico, editors, pp. 243–258. Boulder: University Press of Colorado. Link

2015. (with I. Lilley) "Transnationalism and Heritage Development," in Global Heritage: A Reader, L. Meskell, editor, pp. 217–239. Malden, MA: Wiley. Link

2012. (with D. Totten) "Roman Place-Making: Archaeological Interpretation and Contemporary Heritage Contexts," in Making Roman Places, D. Totten and K. Lafrenz Samuels, editors, pp. 11–33. Portsmouth, RI: JRA.

2012. "Roman Archaeology and the Making of Heritage Citizens in Tunisia," in Making Roman Places, D. Totten and K. Lafrenz Samuels, editors, pp. 159–170. Portsmouth, RI: JRA. Link

2010. "Heritage Management and Poverty Reduction," in Heritage and Globalisation, S. Labadi and C. Long, editors, pp. 200–215. London/New York: Routledge. Link

2009. Trajectories of Development: International Heritage Management of Archaeology in the Middle East and North Africa. Archaeologies: The Journal of the World Archaeological Congress 5(1): 68–91. Link

2008. Value and Significance in Archaeology. Archaeological Dialogues 18(1): 71–97. Link

Other Work

2011. Field Work: Constructing Archaeological and Ethnographic Intersections [book review]. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 21(1): 152–156. Link

2007. (with S. De Vivo and D. Totten) Proceedings of 'Cultures of Contact: Archaeology, Ethics, and Globalization.' Stanford Journal of Archaeology vol. 5. Link

Areas of Interest

  • Cultural heritage, climate change, biodiversity, archaeological ethnography & heritage ethnography, international heritage management, rights & democratic practice



Current Students

Former Students

  • Amber Cohen
  • Allison Stacy
  • Jamie Colopietro
  • Sierra DeVanie
  • William Glass
  • Chris Goodrich
  • Abigail McCoy
  • Peter Sittig

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

  • Zachary Andrews
  • Emily Bales
  • Duncan Balinger
  • Meagan Bell
  • Tamara Billie
  • Katie Boyle
  • James Chatham
  • Jamie Colopietro
  • Cullan Davis
  • Sierra DeVanie
  • Wendy Ferris-George
  • Kurt Fredrickson
  • Brian George
  • Kenneth Gergely
  • William Glass
  • Chris Goodrich
  • Christopher Haisley
  • Darrell Hardy
  • Samuel Hauber
  • Breanna Henderson
  • Jeffrey Johnson
  • Leeanne Mahoney
  • Abigail McCoy
  • Isla Nelson
  • Suzan O'Larick
  • Ellen Platts
  • Samuel Plent
  • Wendy Puckett
  • Fernando Ramirez-Cotto
  • Dean Reed
  • Samantha Renta
  • Alessa Rulli
  • Peter Sittig
  • Emily Smithey
  • Allison Stacy
  • Katherine Titus
  • Scott Tooker
  • Jewel Touchin
  • Jessica Ulmer
  • Nicole Ursin
  • Maximilian Van Rensselaer
  • Douglas VonStrohe
  • Mason Waugh
  • Hilary Wehrle
  • Chelsea Winter
  • Emma Woodruff
Lafrenz Samuels
2101G Woods Hall
Department of Anthropology
lafrenzs [at] umd.edu