Dr. Elena Sesma is a UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California Berkeley. She graduated from the University of Maryland College Park in 2011, with a BA in Anthropology and Women’s Studies. She holds an MA in Anthropology and earned her PhD in anthropology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in May 2019.
Dr. Sesma discovered her love of historical archaeology at the University of Maryland, where she participated in the Archaeology in Annapolis field school and volunteered in the lab during the semester. In 2010, she interned with the Feminist Majority Foundation in Northern Virginia. Sesma was a Bannerker/Key Scholar and was part of the Honors Humanities living-learning community, where she completed a Keystone project focused on gender representation in the culinary industry and food television.
Since graduating from UMD, Sesma was awarded an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship (2013-2016) and a Wenner-Gren Dissertation Fieldwork Grant (2016-2017) to facilitate her graduate training and collaborative research in the Caribbean. She has published in the Journal of Community Archaeology and Heritage and the Journal of African Diaspora Archaeology and Heritage. Additionally, Sesma has presented at a number of anthropological and archaeology conferences on her work in New England and the Bahamas.
Today, Dr. Sesma’s research blends ethnography and archaeology to understand the ways that living communities relate to and reinterpret historic spaces and materials today. She has expertise in community-based and engaged research, historical and contemporary archaeology, and heritage studies, using collaborative and feminist approaches and methodologies to critically analyze collective memory, landscape and place, and the historical roots of inequality. Her most recent work was a community-based project around an early 19th century cotton plantation in Eleuthera, Bahamas, combining collective memory and oral history of local descendants with landscape survey and ethnographic understandings of life on the rural island in the past and present. Currently, Dr. Sesma is developing a comparative project that will investigate the shared history and enduring legacies of Loyalist migration and slavery throughout the British Empire following the American Revolution, focusing specifically on Atlantic Canada and the Bahama Islands.