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Ruined Ancient Architecture

Let's Raise Awareness for the lack of BIPOC Representation in Archeological Academia 

Yo students, Take Advantage of these resources:

The nvz.customs' Initiative  

My name is Isabelle Johnsen, and I am a master's student at the University of Oxford. I started nvz.customs to address some of the issues I have identified during my journey of navigating higher academia, specifically within the archeological field. In the archeological field, BIPOC (Black and Indigenous People of Color) are largely underrepresented. Although archeological institutions are increasing efforts to make the field more inclusive and collaborative, there are still many obstacles to overcome before minority groups are equally represented as professors and professional archeologists. These obstacles include financial, knowledge, and psychological barriers. 


My intention with is to decrease barriers for historically underrepresented and underserved groups within the archeological field. While there are many explicit costs like field school, there are also implicit costs associated with undergraduate degrees and access to mentors. I have included resources that I have collected throughout my academic journey. These resources include free GRE resources and advice on the graduate degree application process. My hope is that these small contributions can help overcome the financial barriers, which in turn can encourage large-scale changes to representation within the field. 


Previously, nvz.customs was selling my handmade jewelry and crafts, as well as other artist’s donations, to donate a portion of the proceeds towards organizations that benefit BIPOC in high academic archeology. As of right now, I am personally funding the domain. Continuing to fund the domain not only allows GRE, mental health resources, and grad application resources to continue to be referenced, but it also allows the URL to create a safe digital space for aspiring archeologists to share advice with other students on their insecurities about attending grad school, psychological challenges of a Ph.D., and give advice on standardized test and application prep. In the future, I hope to establish a grant system to financially help aspiring archeologists with GRE testing, prep, and application fee's through private donations.  

Check out our #studentshelpingstudents blog

Learn About Archeological Discrimintion

Why We Need to Raise Awareness

Why you should care about lack of BIPOC representation in archeological academia....

1. Because- believe it or not- ARCHEOLOGY ACTUALLY MATTERS

Archeology interplays with nationalist rhetoric and our idea of cultural idenity. "lack of diversity is especially problematic in archaeology because archaeologists help shape humanity’s understanding of the past. Who archaeologists are—our backgrounds, experiences, and mental models—can shape which questions we ask and how we interpret archaeological evidence. White archaeologists may ask quite different questions, and interpret data differently, than people of other groups, including Black, Latinx or Hispanic, Asian American, or Indigenous." (

2. Failing to Acknowledge the lack of BIPOC representation is actually hurting the archeological field

"our failure to engage in anti-racist organizing not only implicates all of us in archaeology’s white supremacy, but without change BIPOC archaeologists will continue to bear its burden. Archaeology is not only racially exclusive, the vast majority of us continue to practice at its margins." (

3. The field needs practitioners with more varied backgrounds and perspectives

Without new perspectives, how are we going to innovate new ways to study cultures? "The more those practitioners and teachers have varied backgrounds, perspectives and life experiences, the richer and more representative the information produced and experience provided will become. More people will feel welcome to be a part of what we do, whether as a professional, student, volunteer or casual participant." (

4. Historically, white washed archeological academia has prevented marginalized groups from having the oppertunity to study their own cultures

"Yet White bias in anthropology’s canon, hiring, and teaching remains extensive in the United States (see Commission on Race and Racism in Anthropology 2010; Deborah Thomas 2018). When subaltern anthropologists speak, many White anthropologists apparently cover their ears" (

5. Because EVERYONE, reguardless of race, color, origin, gender identification, sexual preferences (etc etc) deserves the right to study archeology if thats what they want to do!!!!!!


"In the last survey of the U.S. archaeological workforce, done by the Society for American Archaeology in 1994, a whopping 98 percent of 1,502 respondents identified themselves as being of European heritage. Only two identified as African American, while four identified as being of Asian heritage, 15 as Hispanic, and 10 as Native American." (

UK demographics of students and staff in university archeology as of 2008

Want to know what we are up to?

Noreen Von Zwehl
Martini with Olive

I named the company 'nvz.customs' in honor of my grandmother, who was the most generous woman I’ve ever met. 

Noreen and Joseph Von Zwehl

Interested in the NVZ initiative? 


I want NVZ to represent a collaborative, interdisciplinary, and inclusive platform where we all can spread our love for ancient societies and prehistoric art. Contact me if you have any suggestions for future steps for NVZ, if you want to get involved as a volunteer, or if you have ideas to raise money for NVZ's current cause. 

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