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Alicia McGill

Asst Professor

Department of History

View CV 


I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of History and I contribute to the PhD program in Public History. I have always been fascinated by human diversity in the past and present and the ways that people connect with history and have conducted archaeological and cultural anthropology research in Cyprus, Honduras, Belize, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Colorado. Prior to teaching at NC State, I was a visiting assistant professor at Indiana University, South Bend.

I have conducted extensive research in Belize, focusing on the ways constructions of the past are promoted through public venues like tourism, education, and archaeological practice, and how these constructions shape the cultural production of young citizens. I am particularly interested in the ways messages about the past are interpreted and negotiated by teachers and youth as they navigate racial and ethnic politics in the present. My most recent publications focus on national cultural diversity rhetoric in the Belizean state and intersections between colonial dynamics, community connections with the natural landscape, and local heritage work.


I am currently working on my first book: Ruins and Recitations: Education, Colonization, and Public Memory in Belize. The research that provides the basis for this book is an interdisciplinary analysis of cultural heritage practices (e.g. cultural education, archaeological site management, tourism) in the Central American and Caribbean nation of Belize, from the late 19th century to today. Drawing from ethnographic and historical approaches, this project provides emic and etic perspectives on heritage processes within two primarily African-descendant (Belizean Kriol) communities in north-central Belize (Crooked Tree and Biscayne), and situates heritage values in an entangled web of local, national, and global factors, thus revealing how heritage practices are culturally and historically constructed.

In this book I do the following:

  • Identify and analyze state agendas, discourse, and practices for nationalist heritage initiatives in schooling, archaeological research, cultural policies, and tourism
  • Demonstrate how Belizeans (especially students and teachers) surrounded by rich archaeological resources construct ideas about cultural heritage such as archaeology and local history
  • Incorporate the voices of Crooked Tree and Biscayne people, and examine how they respond to outside community-heritage initiatives and contemporary cultural politics, and manipulate heritage for their need
  • Contextualize and interpret findings related to the points above within the colonial history of Belize and the cultural and geo-politics of the broader region.

Click here to read about my recent work with two NC State graduate students and other colleagues on a public history research practicum in Belize. Click here for an article about this project from the perspectives of the graduate students.

Click here to read about a recent project from my Cultural Resource Management graduate class on North Carolina properties from the “Green Books” which were guidebooks compiled by Victor H. Green that highlighted businesses welcoming to African Americans from 1936-1966.

Click here to read about another project from my Cultural Resource Management graduate class on cultural properties associated with Civil Rights activism in North Carolina.

Extension and Community Engagement

Professional Service


I teach courses on Pre-Columbian Latin America, Frauds and Mysteries in History, Cultural Resource Management, and International Cultural Heritage. I have also developed an international public history and heritage practicum to take NC State students to Belize where they learn about Belizean history and culture, tourism, and environmental conservation, develop applied heritage projects, and utilize public history and anthropological skills.

I am faculty adviser for the History Club. History Club is a great way for students interested in history (majors, minors, and non-majors) to engage in educational and social activities related to history. The club visits local museums, watches historical movies, enjoys Howling Cow ice cream, provides opportunties for students to connect with faculty and learn about career opportunities in history, and does at least one field-trip a year to a North Carolina historical site.

Office Hours

  • Tue: 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
  • Wed: 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Or By Appointment

Research Publications

Recent Publications

Refereed Journal Articles

2018    Learning from Cultural Engagements in Community-based Heritage Scholarship,” International Journal of Heritage Studies

2018    “Examining the Pedagogy of Community-Based Heritage Work through an International Public History Field Experience,” The Public Historian, 40(1): 55–84.

2012    “Old Tings, Skelintans, and Ruins: Belizean Student Perspectives about Archaeology,” Chungara Revista de Antropología Chilena 44(3):475-486 (special issue: “Shifting from Object-Centered Research to People-focused Application: Current Approaches to Public Archaeology from Latin America and the Caribbean”)

2011    “Dis da fi wi Hischri?: Archaeology Education as Collaboration With Whom? For Whom? By Whom?” Archaeological Review from Cambridge, 26(2): 153-169

Book Chapters

2015    “Cultural Diversity: Cultivating National Identity and a Productive Citizenry through Belizean Education,” In Heritage Unbound: Rhetoric and Justice in Cultural Heritage, Edited by Kathryn Lafrenz Samuels and Trinidad Rico. University Press of Colorado.

2014    “Situating Public Archaeology in Crooked Tree, Belize,” In Public Participation in Archaeology, Edited by Joanne Lea and Suzie Thomas. Boydell & Brewer, Ltd.: Suffolk, UK.

2010    “Heritage Education in Belize: Crossing Disciplines and Incorporating Diverse Voices,” In Arqueologia Amazônica Volume 2, Edited by Edithe Pereira and Vera Guapindaia. Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi, Belem, Brazil.


Recent Professional Conference Participation

Panels Organized and/or Chaired

2016    Chair and Panelist, “Using Ethnography in Public History to Challenge the Exclusive Past,” National Council on Public History Annual Meeting, Baltimore, MD

2015    “Meeting at the Edges of Heritage Preservation: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Protecting History at Risk,” National Council on Public History Annual Meeting, Nashville, TN

2014    “Diverse Voices: Alternative Knowledge, Communities, and Heritage in Latin America,” 10th Annual UNC-Duke Consortium in Latin American and Caribbean Studies Conference

2013    “Role-Playing, Case Studies and Debates as High-Impact Practices,” Edward C. Moore Symposium on Teaching Excellence, Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis

2010    “‘Saving the Lore’ Version 2.0?: Sustainability, Heritage Studies, Cultural Revitalization and   Development,” 109th Annual American Anthropological Association Meeting, New Orleans, Louisiana


2017    “Meeting in the “Middle” Using Public History and Anthropology in an International Community-Based Field Experience,” (Poster) with Hannah Scruggs, and Lisa Withers, National Council on Public History Annual Meeting, Indianapolis, IN

2016    “Claiming the Past, Directing the Future: An International Heritage Research Practicum in Belize,” 8th World Archaeological Congress, Kyoto, Japan

2016    “Claiming the Past, Directing the Future: An International Public History Research Practicum in Crooked Tree Belize” with Hannah Scruggs, Lisa Withers, and Eleanor Harrison-Buck, Belize Archaeology and Anthropology Symposium, San Ignacio, Belize

2016    “More than Dark: The Diverse Application of Ghosts in Public History” (Panelist), National Council on Public History Annual Meeting, Baltimore, MD

2015    “‘Language Problems, Village Improvement, and the Dullness of Rural Life’: Colonial Education Reports and Implications for Culturally-Relevant Pedagogy in Belize,” 13th annual Belize Archaeology and Anthropology Symposium, San Ignacio, Belize

2015    “Community-based Heritage Preservation and Cultural Exchange in Belize,” 75th Annual Society for Applied Anthropology Meeting, Pittsburgh, PA

2014    “Characterizations of Village Life in the Home of the Cashew: Cultural Preservation, Self-Determination, and Cultural Tourism,” 10th Annual UNC-Duke Consortium in Latin American and Caribbean Studies Conference

2013    “Tourism, Heritage, and the Politics of Culture in Belize,” 7th World Archaeological Congress, Amman, Jordan

2012    “Assessing Student Learning: What does it Mean for Students to “Understand” Archaeological Ethics?,” 77th Annual Society for American Archaeology Meeting, Memphis, TN

2012    “Da Ruins, Kolcha, and Hischri through the Eyes of Belizean Youth: Conceptualizing Heritage through Tourism Education,” 72nd Annual Society for Applied Anthropology Meeting, Baltimore, MD

2011    “Cultural Diversity: Dress + Food + Dance = Culture. Misconceptions about Past and Present Cultural Diversity in Belize.” 110th Annual American Anthropological Association Meeting, Montreal, QC


B.A. Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology Bryn Mawr College 2001

M.A. Anthropology Indiana University 2007

Ph.D. Anthropology Indiana University 2012

Area(s) of Expertise

International Heritage Studies, Public History, Anthropology of Education, Public Archaeology, Latin America and the Caribbean