Paul Mullins

PhD (University of Massachussets, Amherst)
Chair, Professor Department of Anthropology, Indiana University-Purdue University
Docent, Historical Archaeology, University of Oulu
PopAnth Author, Community Advisor

Paul is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Anthropology at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis (IUPUI), where he teaches archaeology, popular culture and applied anthropology. He is also Docent in American Historical Archaeology at the University of Oulu (Finland) and President of the Society for Historical Archaeology.

Paul’s research interests focuses on the relationship between racism and material consumption. He is interested in how consumers use material goods to secure some measure of self-determination. For instance, many African Americans often consumed model genteel goods because they understood themselves to be full Americans and did not accept the racist notion that American and Black were exclusive identities. On the other hand, mass-produced objects provide a range of possible meanings that can variously accommodate resistance, simply reproduce existing inequality, or – more commonly – do both of these things. For example, he has examined Barbie material culture to probe the historically complex meanings the doll’s producers have forged since 1959: at various moments and in particular consumers’ hands, Barbies have been quite visionary, politically indecisive, or utterly reactionary.

Paul also writes about doughnuts in American history, trans-Atlantic material culture, and Finnish ruins. He blogs about his work on his website, Archaeology and Material Culture, and on the Society for Historical Archaeology’s President’s Corner.


Bibliography

Americans have long identified themselves with material goods. In this study, Paul Mullins sifts through this continent's historical archaeological record to trace the evolution of North American consumer culture. He explores the social and economic dynamics that have shaped American capitalism from the rise of mass production techniques of the eighteenth century to the unparalleled ...


An archaeological analysis of the centrality of race and racism in American culture. Using a broad range of material, historical, and ethnographic resources from Annapolis, Maryland, during the period 1850 to 1930, the author probes distinctive African-American consumption patterns and examines how those patterns resisted the racist assumptions of the dominant culture while also attempting ...


In Mullins's skillful hands, this simple pastry provides surprisingly compelling insights into our eating habits, our identity, and modern consumer culture.



PopAnth Articles

The boulevard of death

The boulevard of death

Roadside memorials for traffic accident deaths are more important than graves to the bereaved. How public grieving is taking over NYC.Read on »


Authentic cool

Authentic cool

Hipsters: meaningless "cool" or meaningful culture? Exploring the hipster mindset in a sympathetic fashion.Read on »


Pleasure, community, and air guitar

Pleasure, community, and air guitar

Some people say that air guitar can bring world peace. Others claim it is embarrassing. What's the social purpose of this fine, yet imaginary, art?Read on »


The new normals

The new normals

Never has there been a more glorious moment to be a geek: once caricatured as socially awkward outsiders, geeks are now at the leading edge of style.Read on »