Obama to appoint UC Berkeley professor to cultural advisory committee

President Barack Obama announced Friday his intent to appoint a UC Berkeley anthropology professor to a cultural property committee.

Rosemary Joyce, who is also a former museum director and campus anthropology department chair, is “one of the world’s leading experts on Honduran archaeology,” according to a statement from the Office of the Press Secretary.

“I feel greatly honored to have been nominated and for the president’s decision to name me to the committee,” Joyce said in an email. “I hope that my experience as an archaeologist working internationally, as a museum director and curator, and as a researcher currently conducting work on collections curated in major museums in the United States and Europe, has given me the preparation I will need to fulfill the trust placed in me.”

Obama intends to appoint Joyce to the Cultural Property Advisory Committee, which was established in 1983 and serves to advise the president on the appropriate response to requests from foreign nations for assistance in protecting their cultural heritage through the development of appropriate policies, according to the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

“I think (the committee) is connected to how native groups feel about their material culture moving around the globe — something (Joyce is) very prominent in,” said Steven Shackley, professor emeritus of anthropology at UC Berkeley and a longtime colleague of Joyce.

According to the Cultural Heritage Center, the committee consists of 11 members who are experts in archaeology, anthropology and the international sale of cultural property and who represent the interests of museums and the general public. Members are nominated and then appointed by the president for a three-year term.

Shackley said he believes Joyce’s appointment can be partly attributed to the alignment between her work and the goals of the committee.

“Rosemary Joyce’s interests are wide-ranging and hard to boil down in a few words, but underlying her publications and presentations is a strong desire to advance our understanding of ancient societies and a desire to improve archaeology as a discipline,” said Julia Hendon, a professor of anthropology at Gettysburg College who has worked with Joyce in the past.

Hendon added that Joyce’s “unwavering commitment” will make her an “excellent” addition to the advisory committee.

In a White House statement Friday, Obama announced his intent to appoint Joyce, along with several other intended appointees and department nominees from a variety of fields.

“Our nation will be greatly served by the talent and expertise these individuals bring to their new roles,” Obama said. “I am grateful they have agreed to serve in this Administration, and I look forward to working with them in the months and years ahead.”