Department of Anthropology, McGill University
Ph.D (McGill University), M.Sc (University College London), Hon. B.Sc (University of Toronto)
Practice of archaeology, post-colonial societies, geographic information systems (GIS), archaeology of India, computational archaeology, history of anthropology and archaeology
I am deeply interested in the relationship between archaeology and society and how this relationship influences the interpretation of archaeological data. Studying the social context of archaeology provides a better understanding of epistemology or how we know what we know. There are three ways we know a thing: it happens to us, we see it happen to someone else, and someone tells us about it. One dimension of my research involves visualization such as graphs, photographs, and maps, including GIS. The section "Research Projects" showcases some of the ways I have employed visualizations for research. I am constantly looking for ways to develop GIS for teaching.
GIS is a spatially explicit database, and because its records are best represented as maps, visualization is a key strength of these methods. Yet like most computational databases, GIS does not handle time well and this, in turn, poses significant challenges for researchers interested in examining change. Some scholars address these issues through map animation.
My doctoral dissertation, Behind the frontline: local communities, national interests and the practice of Indian archaeology, used time-sensitive GIS methods to examine how political crisis and the desire for social and political stability influenced the development of archaeology in post-colonial India and how the discipline in turn, has been shaped by this relationship. I demonstrated that social and political factors influenced where and when archaeological investigations took place, the questions that archaeologists asked, and the methods they employed and the evidence they accepted. Through visualizations such as graphs, maps and animation, I showed that contrary to conventional thinking, archaeological work in postwar India is neither evenly distributed, nor uniformly practiced through time. Rather, specific places are investigated at particular times and the methods employed show greater diversity than is currently accepted.
With Dr Stephen Chrisomalis (opens new window), I examined cultural continuity and archaeological practice in Indian archaeology. Scholars generally accept that South Asian archaeology is characterized by archaeological investigations in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and the Maldives. Yet this characterization belies disproportionate emphasis on research efforts in post-1947 India. This chapter from my dissertation has been submitted for the volume entitled, Human Expeditions: Inspired by Bruce Trigger, and will be published by the University of Toronto Press in spring 2013.
On the Quebec Health and Social Services project, I worked with Jesse Sayles to spatially characterize the availability of health and social services for English-speakers in Quebec, Canada. Through maps, we demonstrated that a spatially-explicit analysis of health and social service availability offers a finer resolution of inequalities in service levels for linguistic minorities in Quebec. We presented our results at two conferences. In our study, service providers included doctors, nurses and social workers. We examined the patient-service provider ratio in each RSS or regional health unit in the province against the percentage of English-speakers in the health unit. These service levels were compared with the global ratio for all Quebec residents. Our preliminary results suggested that the highest service levels were not in the same places where the greatest percentage of English-speakers resided.
Quebec Health and Social services
Quebec Health and Social services
Excavations @ Parc Safari
Quebec Health and Social services
Excavations @ Parc Safari
By PDDAD payday loans
I assisted Professor Colin A. Chapman (opens new window) and his graduate students with survey maps for the Makerere University Biological Field Station in Kibale National Park, Uganda. Nestled in thick protected forests in western Uganda, Prof. Chapman's project examines social complexity amongst non-human primates living in close proximity to human communities. This complex and biologically-rich environment also poses specific challenges for researchers. For example, the density and thickness of forest cover means that researchers cannot use global positioning systems (GPS) in many parts of the park.
Over the years, local communities, including researchers, have developed an elaborate trail network throughout the park and have recorded trails using traditional mapping techniques, such as landmarks. Yet until recently, researchers had documented trails on paper maps alone. With Tamaini Snaith, I created a spatially-referenced map for the Kibale trails. On this GIS template, we generated high resolution trail maps which Tamaini used in the field. The image gallery above presents some of these maps. For survey maps and details on the project, check Prof. Chapman's Kibale page (opens new window).
In my work on the Excavations @ Parc Safari project (opens new window), I employed 3D images and digital photography to visualize the spatial and stratigraphic position of animal bones. I compare the strengths and weaknesses of three-dimensional recording methods and digital photography. The gallery above presents some of these images. I show how we can use these visualizations to improve field collection of archaeological data.
Gupta, N. 2013. Local communities, national governments and forensic and archaeological investigations of human rights violations. Archaeologies -The Journal of the World Archaeological Congress (Special issue on Archaeology in Conflict). DOI: 10.1007/s11759-013-9225-4.
Gupta, N. 2013. Cultural continuity, identity and archaeological practice in the Indian context. In Human Expeditions: Inspired by Bruce Trigger, S. Chrisomalis and A. Costopoulos (eds.), pp. 102-115. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Gupta, N. 2012. Before Creation: competing excavators, Imperial Interests and the Making of the Indus civilization in 1920s India. In Scientists and Scholars in the Field: Studies in the History of Fieldwork and Expedition, K .H. Nielsen, M. Harbsmeier and C. J. Ries (eds.), pp. 259-282. Aarhus: Aarhus University Press. (Publishers link / opens new window)
Costopoulos, A, M. W. Lake and N. Gupta. 2010. Introduction. In Simulating Change: archaeology into the twenty-first century, A. Costopoulos and M. W. Lake (eds.), pp. 1-6. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press. (Review by J. Doran / opens new window)
Gupta, N. 2010. Review of Himanshu Prabha Ray, Colonial Archaeology in South Asia: the legacy of Sir Mortimer Wheeler. European Journal of Archaeology, 13: 135-137. DOI: 10.1177/14619571100130010312.
Session Organizer and presenter. Spatial approaches to the history of archaeology, Neha Gupta (co-chaired with Bernard Means), Society for American Archaeology, Hawaii Convention Centre, Honolulu, HI, USA, April 2013.
Invited paper on anthropology and development studies. What is the anthropology of development?, Neha Gupta, Research and Innovation Week, 2013, Lakehead University (Orillia), Orillia Academic Building, Orillia, Ontario, Canada, February 13, 2013. http://research.lakeheadu.ca/research-week/events_2013.html#OrEvents
Invited guest lecture for GEOG201 - Introduction to GIS. Why 3D visualization? Neha Gupta, Geography, McGill University, October 2011.
Invited guest lecture for ANTH357 - Archaeological Methods. What is 'geographic information systems'? Neha Gupta, Anthropology, McGill University, September 2011.
Invited talk on GIS approaches. What is 'geographic information systems'? Neha Gupta, Archaeology, Maharaja Sayajirao University, Baroda, Vadodara, Gujarat, August 2010.
Invited poster on forensic sciences. Tangled corpses: Interpreting a complex mass grave at the Parc Safari cemetery, Neha Gupta, C. Nielsen and C. Ames, American Academy of Forensic Sciences, Seattle, Washington, USA, February 2010.
Invited paper on community archaeology. An interdisciplinary and community approach to the identification of clandestine mass graves: the McGill University Parc Safari Project, A. Costopoulos, M. Kalacska, Neha Gupta, C. Nielsen, F. Megret, C. Herzog, and S. F. Algozin, American Academy of Forensic Sciences, Washington State Convention & Trade Centre, Seattle, Washington, USA, February 2010.
Invited paper on social services in Quebec. English Language Health and Social Services Availability in Quebec: a spatial approach, A. Costopoulos and Neha Gupta, Training and Human Resources Development Project, Partnerships for sustainability, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, September 2008.
Invited paper on epistemology, history of science and fieldwork. The making of ‘long forgotten’ Mohenjodaro: archaeology in colonial India, Neha Gupta, Ways of Knowing the Field, International Conference on the History of Field Work, Cartography, and Scientific Exploration, Carlsberg Academy, Copenhagen, Denmark, August 2008. http://www.fieldstudies.dk/107581/
Invited paper on social services for minorities in Quebec. Spatial analysis of social service availability in Quebec, A. Costopoulos, J. Warnke, Neha Gupta, E. Adams, C. Nielsen, Congrès de l'Acfas, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, Trois-Rivières, Quebec, Canada, May 2007.
Invited paper on archaeology and GIS. Towards a chrono-spatial approach: An example from Archaeology, Neha Gupta, Indo-US Science and Technology Forum, The Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, Vadodara, Gujarat, India, March 2007.
(in prep.) Gupta, N. A question of time? The contentious relationship between geographic information systems and prehistoric archaeology.
(in prep.) Gupta, N. Geovisualization for the history of archaeology.