Kelly M. Britt, PhD, RPA is currently an Assistant Professor of Urban Archaeology at Brooklyn College focusing on community-based historical archaeology of urban spaces. She completed her PhD in Anthropology from Columbia University in 2009, where her research concentrated on how identity and sense of place are seen materially through heritage discourse during processes of change in urban settings. She is currently interested in two areas of research: 1) exploring the intersection of activism and materiality and 2) heritage management seen both locally and globally. She is currently working with the United Order of Tents, Eastern District #3 the oldest Black women’s benevolent society in the United States, whose headquarters in located in a 19th century mansion in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
Historic preservation work has allowed her to work in a variety of settings, including the federal government, museums, academia, and private cultural resource management firms, in addition to freelance projects and consulting. In her former position as Regional Archaeologist at FEMA Region II's offices in New York from 2010-2017, she served as manager and overseer of archaeological projects under review for Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for projects in New York, New Jersey, and the territories of Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands. She also served as the Tribal Nation liaison for the Environmental and Historic Preservation Cadre of the Region. In addition, Britt held the position as FEMA Region II's liaison for CultureAID and adviser for Alliance for Response NYC, two volunteer network organizations in the New York City area that assist the arts, cultural, and heritage sectors of the city in preparing for, assisting in, and mitigating after disasters. She has recently taken her work with disasters and heritage management to collaborate with other archaeologists on a global scale and can be seen in recent publications.
Her writing spans across various topics and genres. She has written several successful Network to Freedom designations for Underground Railroad sites in Pennsylvania and several pieces on heritage tourism and community archaeology including a chapter in the 2007 edited work, Archaeology as a Tool of Civic Engagement, by AltaMira Press. Additionally, she has returned to write on the topic of identity with a co-written chapter in Archaeology of Identity and Dissonance: Contexts for a Brave New World (2019) by University of Florida Press. Recent work on decolonizing the Section 106 process was published in Archaeologies (2019), a World Archaeology Congress journal as well as part of the Berghahn Books edited volume Going Forward by Looking Back: Archaeological Perspectives on Socio-ecological Crisis, Response and Collapse due out fall 2020. In addition to these peer-reviewed pieces, she has co-authored an online publication with a member of the United Order of Tents Eastern District #3 as part of a new unfolding community-based project located in Brooklyn which can be access here: http://www.dilettantearmy.com/articles/united-order-of-tents
. She is currently working on two edited volumes focusing on the intersections of heritage and archaeology with advocacy and activism .
She has served on several boards of directors for various archaeological organizations in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and New York, and was recently President of Professional Archaeologists of New York City (PANYC), a not-for-profit organization devoted to the protection and preservation of New York City's archaeological sites. She has always felt service and collaboration are an important parts of any position within a chosen career path. The various employment positions she has held permitted her to civically engage collaboratively with the communities where she has worked and lived, for she feels it is important to bridge the gap between scholarship and action in true democratic ways. Last but not least, she is a single mum to an energetically creative daughter, who keeps her constantly on her toes and thinking outside the box.
Referred Journal Articles
2019 “Collaborating on the Federal Level: Moving beyond Mandated Consultation in the Section 106 Process”. Archaeologies
, Journal of the World Archaeology Congress, Springer, 15(3): 496-513.
2005 Heritage Tourism and Community Outreach: Public Archaeology at the Thaddeus Stevens and Lydia Hamilton Smith Site in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, U.S.A with co-authors. International Journal of Heritage Studies
. December, 11(5):399-414.
2019 “Clubhouse Excavation: The United Order of Tents
” with co-author, Essie Gregory. Dilettante Army. http://www.dilettantearmy.com/articles/united-order-of-tents.
In Press Advocacy and Archaeology—Urban Intersections
, edited with Diane F George. Berghahn Books, New York.
In Press “Forward”. Advocacy and Archaeology—Urban Intersections
, edited by Kelly M Britt and Diane F George. Berghahn Books, New York.
In Press “Right to the City: Community-Based Urban Archaeology and Abolitionist Geography”. Advocacy and Archaeology—Urban Intersections
, edited by Kelly M Britt and Diane F George. Berghahn Books, New York.
2020 “The Materiality of Heritage Post-Disaster: Negotiating Urban Politics, People and Place through Collaborative Archaeology”. Going Forward by Looking Back: Archaeological Perspectives on Socio-Ecological Crisis ,Response and Collapse,
edited by Felix Riede and Payson Sheets. Berghahn Books, New York.
2019 Introduction: “O Brave New World”: A look at Identity and Dissonance with co-authors. In Archaeology of Identity and Dissonance. Contexts for a Brave New World
. University Press of Florida, Gainesville, Fl, pages 1-18.
2007 Archaeology—The “Missing Link” to Civic Engagement? An Introspective Look at the Tools of Reinvention and Reengagement in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. In Archaeology as a Tool of Civic Engagement
, edited by Barbara J. Little and Paul A. Shackel. AltaMira Press, Lanham, pages 151:172.
2004 Book Review of People, Places, and Material Things: Historical Archaeology of Albany New York
. Charles L. Fisher, editor. New York Museum Bulletin 499, The New York State Educational Department: Albany, NY, 2003. xii + 187 pp., maps, figures, tables, bibliography. $29.95. Northeast Anthropology
. 67: 89-90.
2016 “Archaeology Site Banking: Friend or Foe?” Partners in Shaping Resilient Communities-Newsletter
, FEMA’s Office of Environmental Planning and Historic Preservation April 2016.
2015 “EHP Outreach” and “Section 106 and the Borough of Millstone, NJ”. Partners in Shaping Resilient Communities-Newsletter
, FEMA’s Office of Environmental Planning and Historic Preservation May 2015.
2011 “Now What?” Anthropological Career Choices Outside the Academy—Governmental Employment with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Anthropology News
Volume 52(4):33, April 2011.
2005 When to Hold’em and When to Fold’em: Lessons Learned from the Heritage Profession (co-authored). Anthropology News
2005 The (Re-) Birth of a Nation: Urban Archaeology, Ethics, and the Heritage Tourism Industry (co-authored). Society for American Archaeology Bulletin.