Professor in Anthropology and in the College and the Program on the Ancient Mediterranean World, and an associated faculty member in Classics
Michael Dietler is an archaeologist and ethnographer who studies colonialism and postcoloniality, consumption, material culture, alcohol and food, memory, identity politics, Celtic culture, the history of archaeology, ethnomusicology, and Europe and Africa.
Dietler has been conducting archaeological research on ancient colonial encounters and the wine trade in Mediterranean France for more than 30 years and has argued that the introduction of wine to the societies of this region by Etruscans in the seventh century B.C. was the debut of a process of colonial entanglement that significantly changed social and political relations. The wine trade in the region continued for more than five centuries, during most of which it was dominated by the Greek colony of Marseilles, which was founded about 600 B.C. At Lattes, a native port town in southern France, he discovered a life-sized statue of a warrior that reflects a stronger cultural influence for the Etruscan civilization throughout the western Mediterranean region than previously appreciated. Dietler is currently finishing a book on his ethnographic and historical study of the construction of modern Celtic identities in Europe and America and the use of the past in this process. He is working with Ingrid Herbich on two books on ethnographic research they conducted among the Luo people of Kenya, and he also does research on the Chicago Blues.
He is the editor of Feasts: Archaeological and Ethnographic Perspectives on Food, Politics, and Power (Smithsonian Books, 2001) and Colonial Encounters in Ancient Iberia: Phoenician, Greek, and Indigenous Relations (University of Chicago Press, 2009). Dietler is also the author of Consumption and Colonial Encounters in the Rhone Basin of France: A Study of Early Iron Age Political Economy (CNRS, 2005) and Archaeologies of Colonialism: Consumption, Entanglement and Violence in Ancient Mediterranean France (University of California Press, 2010; winner of the 2012 Book Prize of the Archaeological Institute of America).