Michèle Hayeur Smith

Michèle Hayeur Smith, a research associate at the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology, has been awarded a three-year, $605,000 research grant from the National Science Foundation’s Arctic Social Sciences program to examine women’s roles in the production and trade of cloth across the North Atlantic from the Viking Age until the early 19th century. This is the largest federal research grant ever received by the Haffenreffer Museum and expands the museum’s role in cutting-edge investigations in the northern circumpolar zone, where it has undertaken pioneering research since joining Brown in 1955. Hayeur Smith’s new project, Weaving Islands of Cloth, Textiles and Trade Across the North Atlantic from the Viking Age to the Early Modern Period, expands on a successful, three-year (2010-2013) collections-based archaeological project also funded by NSF’s Arctic Social Sciences program. That project, Rags to Riches – An Archaeological Study of Textiles and Gender in Iceland AD 874-1800, analyzed archaeological textile assemblages from 31 Icelandic sites spanning 1,000 years. Weaving Islands of Cloth takes knowledge gained from the earlier project to conduct a comparative, three-year examination of textiles as primary evidence for women’s labor and roles in the Norse colonies that expanded from Scandinavia across the North Atlantic in the ninth century A.D. and developed, during the following millennium, into the modern nations of Scotland, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, and Greenland.