Department of History
University of Florida
P.O. Box 117320
Gainesville, FL 32611-7320
Bonnie Effros is professor of history and Rothman Chair and Director of the Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere. She earned her Ph.D. from UCLA in 1994. Her research and teaching address a number of chronological and thematic fields, including early medieval history and archaeology, history of archaeology (nineteenth and twentieth centuries), and gender history.
Professor Effros’ early work focused on interpreting burial ritual in early medieval communities. Her first two books, Caring for Body and Soul: Burial and the Afterlife in the Merovingian World (Penn State University Press 2002) and Merovingian Mortuary Archaeology and the Making of the Early Middle Ages (University of California Press 2003) examined written and archaeological evidence related to the treatment and burial of the dead in post-Roman Gaul. Her interest in material remains, particularly important due to the scarcity of documents attesting to early medieval ritual practices, also contributed to her next book, Creating Community with Food and Drink in Merovingian Gaul (Palgrave 2002) in which she explored early medieval feasting and fasting rituals. This study allowed her to explore the lifeways of marginalized groups, particularly women, who were able to express themselves more fully in this informal context than in the political sphere in which they were poorly represented. Her work is closely tied to current debates assessing the nature of Christian conversion, ethnic and gender identity, the survival of Roman mores in the West following Germanic migrations during the fourth and fifth centuries, and the contribution of new technologies in archaeology to our knowledge of this period. Together with Isabel Moreira at the University of Utah, she is the editor of the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of the Merovingian World (Oxford 2017), which, with contributions from 46 archaeologists, art historians, and historians in North America, Europe, and Australia/New Zealand, will highlight some of the exciting work currently being undertaken on the Merovingian era.
In the last several years, Professor Effros has published Uncovering the Germanic Past: Merovingian Archaeology in France, 1830-1914 (Oxford, 2012), in which she links growing interest in the Merovingian past to the discovery of long-forgotten cemeteries uncovered during the course of the industrial revolution in France. These discoveries of “Germanic warriors” pushed the French to reconsider their national origins which could no longer be linked exclusively to the ancient Gauls. In this work, she also examines the impact of the formation of the discipline of archaeology on the collection and interpretation of material artifacts, a topic likewise tied to her current book project entitled Incidental Archaeologists: French Officers and the Rediscovery of Roman North Africa, 1830-1870 (Ithaca, 2017). In the course of the French invasion and subsequent “pacification” of the region that became Algeria, the armée d’Afrique confiscated homes, land, and mosques from the indigenous population and massacred tribes that resisted French domination. Along with the normalization of violence against civilian inhabitants, classical monuments fared badly, being reused as fortifications or destroyed as materiel for building French barracks, roads, and hospitals. This project examines the contributions of nineteenth-century officers, who, raised on classical accounts of warfare and often trained as cartographers, developed interest in the Roman remains they encountered throughout Algeria. Linking archaeological studies of the Roman past to French narratives of the Algerian occupation, the project examines how Roman archaeology helped foster a new identity for military and civilian settlers and examines the close entanglement of classical studies with politics in colonial and metropolitan France. Closely related to this project is a volume of sixteen essays by international experts on imperial and colonial archaeology in the nineteenth and twentieth century that Professor Effros is editing with fellow UF Professor Guolong Lai (Art History). Some of Professor Effros’ recent pieces exploring the history of archaeology have been published in Early Medieval Europe, Journal of the History of Collections, Speculum, the supplementary series of the Reallexikon für Altertumskunde, Forschungen zur Geschichte des Mittelalters (published by the Austrian Academy), and a variety of other edited collections.
Professor Effros previously taught at the University of Alberta, where she held an Izaak Walton Killam Memorial Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Department of History and Classics, at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville in the Department of Historical Studies, and at Binghamton University, where she served as chair of the Department of History. Among other awards, she has received a Sylvan C. Coleman and Pamela Coleman Memorial Fund Fellowship at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (2001-2002), Membership in the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Studies (2013-2014), a NEH Summer Stipend (2013), the Berkshire Summer Fellowship at the Bunting Institute (now the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study) (1998), a Camargo Foundation Fellowship in Cassis, France (Fall 1997), the Franklin Research Fellowship from the American Philosophical Society (2004), as well as grants from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) in Munich (1991-1992), the Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum, Mainz (Fall 2006), and the Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften in Vienna (Spring 2007). For several years, she served as a sponsored lecturer for the Archaeological Institute of America. She is also series editor of the Brill Series on the Early Middle Ages, a continuation of the Transformation of the Roman World series published by E.J. Brill in the Netherlands, and just completed a term as a Councillor and member of the Executive Committee of the Medieval Academy of America.
In supervising graduate students, Professor Effros is interested in exploring topics in late antique and early medieval history of Western Europe, particularly projects that examine Christianity, gender, ethnicity, or themes related to archaeological evidence. She is also eager to work with students on the history of archaeology and museums. Since work in the medieval field requires proficiency in Latin and at least two modern languages, and research on nineteenth-century archaeology and museums mandates proficiency in at least two modern languages, students should begin this preparation as early as possible in their studies. Although she is currently on research leave (2015-2016) as a visiting scholar at the Centre des études supérieures de la civilisation médiévale at the Université de Poitiers, she encourages students interested in working with her to contact her by email in advance or in the course of applying to the program. In Fall 2016, she will be teaching an upper division course on medieval magic and witchcraft, and, in Spring 2017, she will teach a graduate seminar on the Christian body in late antique and early medieval spirituality.