March 30, 2018


Greenland headshot_Jan 2018Fiona Rose Greenland

Welcome! I am a comparative and historical sociologist at the University of Virginia, where I am Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology. I teach courses on the Sociology of Art and Art Markets; Criminology; and Research Design and Methods. With an interdisciplinary research agenda grounded in qualitative methods, I am engaged in collaborations with colleagues in the Anthropology and Art History departments and the Global Studies program.

My broad research interest is in cultural objects as a source of power, with particular focus on antiquities and modern states. My forthcoming book, Ruling Culture: Art Police, Tomb Robbers, and the Rise of Cultural Power in Italy (University of Chicago Press), examines this point in the context of Italy’s transformation from passive “seat of the arts” for wealthy European intellectuals into a global cultural superpower. The book is based on over three years’ work with archaeologists, cultural administrators, and historical archives in Rome. While nationalist ideologies have been implicated in prior analyses of Italy’s cultural politics, I argue that the pragmatics of state-building and the specific anxieties of state sovereignty, not nationalism, account for the peculiar arrangements of ruling culture in Italy today.

The intersection of violence, power, and material culture is another core research focus of mine, taking shape in three lines of inquiry. (1) Addressing the problem of potential insurgent revenue from the illicit sale of Syrian antiquities, my MANTIS colleagues and I experimented with excavation data and auction records to model the market value of an entire archaeology site in Syria. The findings are under review. (2) Thanks to a generous grant from the National Science Foundation, in 2018-2020 I will be conducting research on a new project, “Insurgent Artifacts,” which studies satellite archaeologists’ expertise in the service of counter-terrorism policy-making. (3) A pilot project, “Cultural violence and civilian deaths,” is trying to understand the relationship between the destruction of culturally and historically significant sites, and the intensification of violence directed at human communities. The project is funded by the Quantitative Collaborative at the University of Virginia.

One of the useful things about antiquities is that their temporal and material endurance make them a strong platform for truth claims about the social world. Antiquities are not naturally occurring things but rather hybrid artifacts produced by economic, cultural, scientific, and political processes. To this end, I am interested in collaborative initiatives that use sociology of knowledge and STS theories to study knowledge production into and from antiquities.

You can read more about my research projects, publications, and teaching in these pages.