UNO’s Midlo Center for New Orleans Studies Announces Ryan Gray as Associate Director

The Ethel & Herman L. Midlo Center for New Orleans Studies at UNO will have a new Associate Director beginning in the Spring semester of 2021.  Dr. Ryan Gray, Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology and Sociology and Richard Wallin Boebel Chair in Anthropology, will be teaming up with Center Director and Midlo Endowed Chair and Raphael Cassimere Professor of History, Mary Niall Mitchell.  Gray brings expertise as an urban archaeologist and is one of the leaders of UNO’s Cultural Resource  Management program.  He will replace the Center’s outgoing co-Director, Dr. Connie Zeanah Atkinson, who is retiring in January.

Gray joins the Midlo Center with an active research program, both in New Orleans and abroad, with a particular focus on urban development, race, and segregation in the post-Emancipation South. He leads field projects around the city on a regular basis, introducing students to the methods of historical archaeology on sites spanning the Colonial era to the present. He has worked to expand the capabilities of the UNO Archaeology Lab, supporting collections-based research for both students and other scholars, developing interdisciplinary collaborative projects with colleagues at UNO and at the University of Innsbruck, and creating educational materials about the archaeology and history of the city.

“In my research, I’ve tried to maintain a commitment to public engagement and outreach, and already this has frequently meant working alongside my colleagues at the Midlo Center,” says Gray. “I’m excited about the opportunity to build on that experience and join with the network of students, scholars, activists, and community partners that the Center has grown over the years. There is so much exciting archaeological research in and around New Orleans that is still little known outside of the discipline. The Midlo Center seems like a perfect fit for someone like myself, who wants to bring that research into conversations about building a more just city in the present.”

“I am thrilled to welcome Ryan Gray to the Midlo  Center,” says Mitchell.  “Ryan’s research in historical archaeology adds a significant new dimension to the public-facing work we do.  The mission of the Center is to emphasize the city’s long history of civil rights activism.  We also support research and public programming exploring the lesser known facets of the city’s past–particularly the experiences of enslaved and disenfranchised groups whose histories have often been silenced. These are precisely the kinds of stories that Ryan’s work brings to light.”

This new collaboration is also an opportunity to  enhance UNO’s engagement with the city and its residents.  “The Midlo Center owes so much to Connie Atkinson for her years of work and we will miss her regular insight, her connections to the city, and her expertise,” Mitchell says. “Fortunately, Ryan and I have worked together on past projects and we have a shared network of community partners and cultural institutions on which to build. We both regularly involve UNO students in our research projects and public-facing work, so this is a win for them as well.”

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