Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology, Brown University, Providence, RI
Michèle Hayeur Smith is an anthropological archaeologist with research interests in gender, textiles, dress, adornment and material culture studies. She has fieldwork experience in Iceland, and North America. Her doctoral research, conducted on jewellery and dress from Viking Age Icelandic burials, looked at items of dress for clues about the projection of social and cultural identity.
More recently she has been working in Iceland and the North Atlantic on research projects on gender and the production and circulation of textiles from the Viking Age to the early 19th century. NSF Arctic Social Sciences (Award no. 102316) “Rags to Riches: an Archaeological Study of Gender and Textiles in Iceland AD875-AD1800” examined curated archaeological textiles collections from roughly 34 Icelandic sites and has offered new insights into gender, textile production and trade in and out of Iceland, weaving technologies through time, as well as dress practices throughout the medieval period. This project has hopefully brought women’s lives and women’s roles in the Icelandic economy, household organization, regional politics, and culture into the forefront.
In 2013 She was awarded a second grant from the National Science Foundation (Award no. 1303898 ) “Weaving Islands of Cloth: Gender, Textiles and Trade across the North Atlantic, from the Viking Age to the Early Modern Period” expanding upon the previous grant and carrying a comparative, 1000-year examination of textiles as primary evidence for women’s labor and roles in some of the Norse colonies that expanded from Scandinavia across the North Atlantic in the 9th century AD and developed, over the following millennium, into the modern nations of Scotland, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, and Greenland.