Lynn Meskell's research and teaching interests encompass a broad range of fields, including an ethnography of UNESCO, heritage in South African identity and sociopolitics, gender and feminism, and heritage ethics. Meskell views contemporary archaeology as an anthropology of the past, a contextual and nuanced engagement with ancient culture that mirrors the ethnographic project.
A Professor of Anthropology, Meskell came to Stanford from Columbia University. In her fieldwork she examines the constructs of natural and cultural heritage and the related discourses of empowerment around the Kruger National Park, ten years after democracy in South Africa. She is interested in the specific national understanding of biodiversity and its relationship to development initiatives, democracy, historic claims and land restitution. Another project focuses on the social constitution of the figurine worlds at Çatalhöyük, Turkey.
Her current research investigates the role of UNESCO in terms of heritage rights, sovereignty, and international politics. As founding editor of the Journal of Social Archaeology, she has attempted to forge a vehicle for interdisciplinary dialogue, bringing together a wide range of scholars from diverse fields to constitute the editorial panel (feminists, historians, social theorists, and ethnographers). Additionally, Meskell founded Stanford Heritage Ethics, an interdisciplinary group that aims to situate their treatment of heritage firmly within the issues of ethics, politics, internationalism, conservation, development, human rights, collaborations, and indigenous issues.