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UHM Faculty Spotlight: Miriam Stark


Miriam Stark is a Professor of Anthropology  at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. Her teaching focuses on archaeological method and theory, with a particular emphasis on Southeast Asia. She has fieldwork experience in the New and Old Worlds, and has worked in Southeast Asia since 1987 with a focus on Cambodia, Thailand, and the Philippines.

Her primary research interests are early state development and political economy in the Mekong Delta and the Preangkorian & Angkorian Khmer civilizations (c. 6th – 15th cent. CE), with a secondary interest in the anthropology of technology. Professor Stark has funded her work through multiple extramural grants, which she has used to explore the origins of mainland Southeast Asia’s earliest states within their South China Sea/Indian Ocean world and (more recently) the mechanics of state growth and landscape formation through a largely economic lens. Fieldwork through the Greater Angkor Project Phase III has wrapped up, but Professor Stark continues to pursue Cambodia-based work through the Khmer Production and Exchange Project with colleagues in Australia, Cambodia, and California. Publications from her multiple research projects are available online: Her graduate students pursue research on a variety of archaeological topics in both mainland and island Southeast Asia. Two of her PhD students are currently writing up results of their field-based doctoral research: Rachel Hoerman’s rock art research from Sarawak, and Heng Piphal’s settlement pattern studies of Preangkorian Cambodia.

Professor Stark also contributes to Southeast Asian archaeology through service on various advisory boards (Friends of Khmer Culture, Inc.; Heritage Watch), advisory committees for the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA Cultural Heritage Committee, AIA Advisory Group on International Affairs), and journal editorial boards. She currently serves as an AIA lecturer, and Committee Co-Chair for the Institute for Southeast Asian Archaeology’s Early Career Award Committee.


Host Hong Jiang speaks with Professor Miriam Stark about training archeologists in Cambodia and its importance in understanding the history of Southeast Asian civilization in 2013.

Khmer Mystery - Funan (The Lost City) part 2

Includes a segment that features Professor Stark and her project.

The Age of Angkor: From the Inside Outward

Portuguese missionaries who visited Indochina in the 16th century encountered a vast ancient city at the northern edge of the Tonle Sap Lake of what is now Cambodia. Abandoned for 150 years, some buildings had been partially restored as a Buddhist pilgrimage center; many monuments had been given over to the forest. By the mid 19th century, French colonial Henri Mouhot sparked the European public’s interest in Angkor Wat and its associated temples. This vast pre-industrial urban complex that we now call Angkor was the seat of Southeast Asia's largest kingdom from the 9th through 15th centuries CE. How did it develop? What did it look like? And what factors led to its abandonment as a political center for the Khmer Empire in the 15th century CE? Since the late 1990s, archaeologists have returned to Cambodia to study these questions, and the Greater Angkor Project has led such field-based investigations. This lecture contextualizes the Age of Angkor from its core region that we know call Great Angkor. Field-based archaeological research from the Greater Angkor Project's Phase III (2010-2015), offers insights on the developmental trajectory, scale, and history of the Khmer Empire.

PROFESSOR MIRIAM STARK has worked in collaboration with Cambodia’s Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts since 1996 on the archaeology of the Mekong Delta. She joined the Greater Angkor Project as a Co-Investigator for their Phase III (2010-2015) research; this project involves collaboration with APSARA Authority, the École française d'Extrême-Orient (EFEO), and the University of Sydney. Her research concentrates on several interrelated themes: pottery analysis, regional survey, and the rise of social complexity. Dr. Stark has published extensively on her Southeast Asian archaeological and ethnoarchaeological research for more than 20 years; besides journal and book articles, her publications include several edited volumes and special journal issues. She edited the journal Asian Perspectives from 2000-2006, directs the Luce Asian Archaeology Program, serves on the Executive Committee of the Indo-Pacific Prehistory Association, and serves as Archaeology Editor for American Anthropologist.

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