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Bettina Arnold


Bettina Arnold obtained her BA in Archaeology from Yale University and her MA/PhD degrees in Anthropology from Harvard University. She is a Full Professor of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Adjunct Curator of European Archaeology at the Milwaukee Public Museum. Her research interests include the archaeology of alcohol, the archaeology of gender, mortuary archaeology, Celtic Iron Age Europe and the history of archaeology, especially its manipulation for political purposes in National Socialist Germany.

Recent relevant publications include the following:

2023 The perils of a usable past: archaeology’s journey from culture history to culture wars.  Getty-CAS Spring School Working Paper Series 14/2 The Impact of the Political on Archaeological Research, pp. 1-22. Centre for Advanced Study Sofia.

2022 National Socialist archaeology as a Faustian bargain: the contrasting careers of Hans Reinerth and Herbert Jankuhn. In Bernard M. Levinson and Robert P. Ericksen (eds) Betrayal of the Humanities under National Socialism, pp. 332- 357. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.


“For people on the left, (Diversity/Equity/Inclusion) has become their new religion. They no longer go to church on Sunday, but boy, are they trying to make sure that everybody is evangelized on campus, that there’s only one acceptable viewpoint. That’s not what I think taxpayers should be funding…” Wisconsin State Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, quoted in a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article on June 17, 2023.

In the extremely polarized political environment in the U.S. today, academic disciplines that investigate gender or race from a scientific perspective have become a target for vitriol and punitive measures from the right but attacks are also leveled at scholars by Indigenous groups and other stakeholders who object to scientific analysis of human remains that are the basis of such research. The resulting barrage of hostile rhetoric has made it difficult for archaeologists to reconcile their training, which emphasizes the application of the scientific method to the recovery, recording and interpretation of material evidence, with the demands of the academic and political institutions on which they depend for their livelihoods. The term moral injury was originally coined by the psychiatrist Jonathan Shay to describe the wound that forms when a person’s sense of what is right is betrayed by leaders in high-stakes situations. Archaeologists are increasingly caught between the demands of various interest groups that require them to betray their professional standards and their sense of themselves as responsible scholars. A coordinated, politically motivated anti-science ecosystem has spread to all aspects of professional life in the U.S. and beyond, including eastern Europe. (How) can archaeologists reclaim their professional integrity in the face of such challenges?