Doug Bailey

Doug Bailey
Development and Alumni Relations
(415) 338–2046
Building: Fine Arts Building
Room Number: 534
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Office Hours: 
Monday: 10:00 am-4:00 pm
Tuesday: 10:00 am-4:00 pm
Wednesday: 10:00 am-4:00 pm
Thursday: 10:00 am-4:00 pm
Friday: 10:00 am-4:00 pm


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  • Ph.D. Cambridge University, 1991
  • M.Phil Cambridge University, 1986
  • A.B. Dartmouth College, 1985

New book on art/archaeology!

Breaking the Surface, book by Doug BaileyMy most recent book is from Oxford University Press: Breaking the Surface: an Art/Archaeology of Prehistoric Architecture.

Breaking the Surface offers a radical alternative for understanding Neolithic houses, providing much-needed insight not just into prehistoric practice, but into another way of doing archaeology. Using my fieldwork experience excavating the early Neolithic pit-houses of southeastern Europe, I expose and elucidate a previously under-theorized aspect of prehistoric pit construction: the actions and consequences of digging defined as breaking the surface of the ground.

Breaking the Surface works through the consequences of this redefinition in order to redirect scholarship on the excavation and interpretation of pit-houses in Neolithic Europe, offering detailed critiques of current interpretations of these earliest European architectural constructions. The work of the book is performed by juxtaposing richly detailed discussions of archaeological sites (Etton and The Wilsford Shaft in the UK, and Magura in Romania), with the work of three artists-who-cut (Ron Athey, Gordon Matta-Clark, Lucio Fontana), with deep and detailed examinations of the philosophy of holes, the perceptual psychology of shapes, and the linguistic anthropology of cutting and breaking words, as well as with cultural diversity in framing spatial reference and through an examination of pre-modern ungrounded ways of living.

Breaking the Surface is as much a creative act on its own-in its mixture of work from disparate periods and regions, its use of radical text interruption, and its juxtaposition of text and imagery-as it is an interpretive statement about prehistoric architecture. Unflinching and exhilarating, it is a major development in the growing subdiscipline of art/archaeology.

Critical comment

  • "Remarkable and original. A marvelous book full of wonderful associations. A fabulous excursion in the archaeological imagination. Doug Bailey offers us a profound reshaping of the way we see the world." Michael Shanks, Professor, Stanford University
  • "It is very rare that one sees a book about prehistory that is truly revolutionary or relevant beyond the field. Doug Bailey has produced one. With his subversive mixture of contemporary art and archaeological practice, he forces us to see the world anew-that of early farmers and our own era. And in the process, he reinvents archaeology." Alfredo González-Ruibal, Institute of Heritage Sciences of the Spanish National Research Council


  • "A terrific tool for teaching the ways in which different disciplines can contribute to the interpretive elaboration of archaeology. It constantly inspires ideas and stimulates thoughts well beyond its pages….an extraordinary tour de force that brings disciplines together—some well beyond archaeology’s immediate lateral thinking.” Ruth Tringham (UC Berkeley) in Journal for Anthropological Research (Winter 2109)
  • "An outstanding and stimulating book, filled with original ideas and thoughtful reflections, and as such it can be thoroughly recommended. Bailey’s engagement with art history and art criticism is deep, scholarly and productive." Julian Thomas (Manchester University) in Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society (February 2019)
  • "A fresh and bold contribution that go beyond disciplinary boundaries....novel and intriguing inspirations for the study of art. The first step in inaugurating a new field of research, spreading from archaeology to art history, disrupting and complicating the previous studies and interpretations offered by both disciplines. Highly recommended to all scholars interested in cutting-edge perspectives that complicate previous studies and encourage to question the state of art, both in archaeology, anthropology, and art history." Monika Stobiecka (University of Warsaw) in Norwegian Archaeological Review (August 2020).
  • "A valuable contribution to archaeology’s recent engagements with visual art….a  demonstration  of  the  insights  provoked  by  the new sub- discipline, Art/Archaeology." Helen Wickstead (Kingston University, London) in European Journal of Archaeology (May 2020).

To buy this book, please go to the OUP site or Amazon.

For readers who would like to receive the modified artist's version (as the volume was originally intended), please send their purchased book to me and I will intervene in your copy and return it to you. Send books to

Professor Doug Bailey
Department of Anthropology
San Francisco State University
1600 Holloway Road
San Francisco, California 94132
United States


Art and Visual Culture, Prehistoric Art, Archaeology, Representation, Theory and The Contemporary Past  

UnearthedMy interests range widely. Current focus is on the archaeology of art and visual culture and on art/archaeology as alternative production. Work is at the interface of art and archaeology, as well as in the challenging space beyond both disciplines. Intentions are to reposition our approaches to prehistoric visual culture and to create radical alternatives to archaeological publication (e.g., the Unearthed book; see cover above). Graduate applicants wishing to explore these topics must contact me before submitting their formal applications. Other interests: Surrealist periodicals; DADA; early 20th century photography; the anthropological, archaeological, and visual archive; and the prehistoric archaeology of Europe. Please see my photo work. Scroll to the bottom of this webpage to find a link to my current CV. Almost all of my journal articles and book chapter are available from


Before joining SF State in 2008, I was Head of Archaeology at Cardiff University in the UK where I was awarded a personal chair in 2006. My Ph.D. (1991) and MPhil (1986) are both from Cambridge University; my B.A. is from Dartmouth.


Releasing the Visual Archive

This project investigates the status of the visual archive with particular attention to the complexities of the image as object and the politics of visual culture. A first study in the project (The Book of Miko) has been an examination of over 1200, 35-mm colour transparencies that a museum curator discarded immediately before the closure of her collection. With the support of the Norwegian Academy of Sciences, the study uncovered unexpectedly disturbing sets of image subjects; most slides depicted animals in captivity (and being dissected), face and head shapes of immigrant populations, highly sexualized representations of pregnancy and birth, and human fossil remains. Hard-edged conflicts emerged about how to handle these slides; standard visual anthropological practice of repatriation was not applicable as human subjects could not be sourced and animal subjects and fossil remains stood outside of standard categories of communicative agents. The study wrestled to negotiate an ethical treatment of morally questionable visual artifacts. One study product was a set of five photobooks in which I juxtaposed image-sets in order to raise difficult questions about the appropriateness of scholarly imagery. A second study output, more performative and provocative, was to release the images from their archival constraints through their destruction by combustion and chemical dissolution.

For full details see my 2020 chapter "Releasing the visual archive: on the ethics of destruction" in After Discourse: Things, Affect, Ethics, edited by B. Olsen, M. Burstrøm, C. DeSilvey, and Th. Pétursdóttir (London: Routledge). Also see the essay "Releasing the archive" about my 2020 installation of the same name at the International Museum of Contemporary Sculpture in Portugal in the exhibition catalogue, Creative (un)makings: Disruptions in Art/Archaeology, edited by D. Bailey, S. Navarro, and Á. Moreira, and published by the museum.

You can see a short lecture that I gave in 2017 at Rutgers University for their Cultural Heritage and Preservation Studies center at a conference about heritage and the visual archive that I titled Accelerated Decay and the Release of the Confined: Destroying a Visual Archive (you need to scroll to the 2 hour and 22 min mark of the video - or you could watch the entire conference if you want to)

Select project publications:

  • Bailey, D.W. 2017. The Book of Miko. Volume 4, number 4 (Reproduction and Fossil). San Francisco, CA.: Blurb. (Order this book as a PDF or print Book of Miko 4/4)
  • Bailey, D.W. 2017. The Book of Miko. Volume 8, number 3 (Subjects and Dissection). San Francisco, CA.: Blurb. (Order this book as a PDF or print Book of Miko 8/3)
  • Bailey, D.W. 2017. The Book of Miko. Volume 17, number 1 (Ethnicity and Sexuality). San Francisco, CA.: Blurb. (Order this book as a PDF or print Book of Miko 17/1)
  • Bailey, D.W. 2017. The Book of Miko. Volume 23, number 6 (Grid and Classification). San Francisco, CA.: Blurb. (Order this book as a PDF or print Book of Miko 23/6)
  • Bailey, D.W. 2017. The Book of Miko. Volume 43, number 6 (Release and Destroy). San Francisco, CA.: Blurb. (Order this book as a PDF or print Book of Miko 43/6)
  • Bailey, D.W. 2020. Releasing the visual archive: on the ethics of destruction. In B. Olsen, M. Burstrøm, C. DeSilvey, and Th. Pétursdóttir (eds) After Discourse: Things, Affect, Ethics, pp. 232-56. London: Routledge.
  • Bailey, D.W. 2020. Releasing the archive. In D. Bailey, S. Navarro, and Á. Moreira (eds) Creative (un)makings: Disruptions in Art/Archaeology, pp. 80-91. Santo Tirso: International Museum of Contemporary Sculpture.


Through alternative output of traditional materials, I have been working in a new space beyond the disciplinary definitions and boundaries of art and archaeology. The concern is not to interpret the art of the past or assign meaning to actions of past peoples; the intent is to create new work using the past and its remnants as material and resource, as palette and medium. The project practices a dissident archaeology through the visual and creates provocative output. View a recent overview of my TAG-Chicago talk, or watch a fall 2019 lecture that I gave at UC Berkeley's Archaeological Research Facility. In 2020, at the International Museum of Contemporary Sculpture in Santo Tirso, Portugal, I curated (with Sara Navarro) the exhibition Creative (un)makings: Disruptions in Art/Archaeology. One of the three components of this exhibition, Ineligible, was a major installation of art/archaeology in action. Details are included both in the exhibition catalogue Creative (un)makings: Disruptions in Art/Archaeology, edited by D. Bailey, S. Navarro, and Á. Moreira, but also by the publication of essays inspired by a conference associated with the exhibition: Ineligible: A Disruption of Artefacts and Artistic Practice, also edited by D. Bailey, S. Navarro, and Á. Moreira.

Follow the latest work in Art/Archaeology and find updated lists of publications and events on the Art/Archaeology site, and join the discussion by joining the Art/Archaeology FaceBook group.

Select project publications:

  • Bailey, D.W., Cockrane, A. and Zambelli, J. 2010. Unearthed. Norwich: Sainsbury Centre. Order this book.
  • Bailey, D.W. 2012. Cutting the earth / cutting the body. In A. González-Ruibal (ed.) Reclaiming Archaeology: Beyond the Tropes of Modernity, pp. 337-45. London: Routledge. Access this article from my page.
  • Bailey, D.W. 2014. Which ruins do we valorize? A new visual calibration for the Balkan past. In B. Olsen and Þ. Pétursdóttir (eds) Ruin Memories: Materiality, Aesthetics and the Archaeology of the Recent Past, pp. 215-29. London: Routledge. Access this article from my page.
  • Bailey, D.W. 2014. Art // archaeology // art: letting-go beyond. I. Russell and A. Cochrane (eds), Art and Archaeology: Collaborations, Conversations, Criticisms, pp. 231-50. New York: Springer-Kluwer. Access this article form my page.
  • Bailey, D.W. and Simpkin, M. 2015. Eleven minutes and forty seconds in the Neolithic: underneath archaeological time. In R. Van Dyke and R. Berneck (eds) Subjects and Narratives in Archaeology, pp. 187-213. Boulder, CO.: University of Colorado Press. Access this article from my page.
  • Bailey, D.W. 2017. Disarticulate – repurpose – disrupt: art/archaeology. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 27(4): 691-701. Access this article from my page.
  • Bailey, D.W. 2017. Art/Archaeology: what value artistic-archaeological collaboration? Journal of Contemporary Archaeology 4(2): 246-256. Access this article from my page.
  • Bailey, D.W. 2018. Breaking the Surface: an Art/Archaeology of Prehistoric Architecture. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Bailey, D.W. 2020. Art/archaeology: the Ineligible project. In D.W. Bailey, S. Navarro, and Á. Moreira (eds) 2020. Ineligible: A Disruption of Artefacts and Artistic Practice. pp. 13-28. Santo Tirso: International Museum of Contemporary Sculpture.
  • Bailey, D.W., Navarro, S and Moreira, Á. (eds) 2020. Ineligible: A Disruption of Artefacts and Artistic Practice. Santo Tirso: International Museum of Contemporary Sculpture.

Select project installations:

  • 2015 Ancient Figurines: Controlling Bodies. Badé Museum of Biblicial Archaeology, Berkeley, California. June – September [photographic / mixed media].
  • 2010. Unearthed. Norwich: Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts June-Octo. [prehistoric / contemporary material culture].

Present-Past-(Re)presentation: Romania

With Dr. Steve Mills (Cardiff University, UK), I was co-PI of a European Union project (£300,000 / $477,829) investigating cross-disciplinary approaches to art and the landscape. Basing our work on the modern village of Măgura, in southern Romania, the project wrestled with issues of representation and documentation. Using a diverse set of methods and approaches the project created multi-media, multi-period interpretations of a rural community which has been a center of rural life for over 8000 years. Participants ranged from archaeologists, historians, ethnographers, land artists, photographers and ethnographic film-makers to local school children, politicians, shop-keepers and village residents.

Select project publications: 

  • Biella, P. and Druvofka, I. 2010. Eternity Was Born in the Village. Philadelphia and San Francisco: Bilingual Media.
  • Jasmin, M. 2010. The Brain of the Archaeologist. Paris: Deux Ponts.
  • Mills, S. 2010. Interventions: Margura Past and Present. Cardiff: Cardiff University.
  • Mirea, P. 2010. The Lower Danube in Prehistory. Bucuresti: Renaissance.
  • Thorne, S. 2010. Some Spaces. Cardiff: Thorne Music.
  • Thorne, S. 2010. Romanian Village Soundscape. Cardiff: Thorne Music.
  • Tsantareanu, E. and Nemteanu, R. 2010. Human Cultural Change in the Romanian Rural Landscape. Bucuresti: Renaissance.

The Interpretation of Prehistoric Art

A long-running project has been the critical reassessment of prehistoric art, specifically the smal anthropomorphic figures of Neolithic central and southeastern Europe (6500-3500 cal. BC). Through a series of publications, I have argued that we must understand representations of art not as simple representations of past realities (i.e., as Goddesses or evidence of matriarchy), but as subtle, but powerful elements through which identities and relationships of appearance emerge, change, are manipulated, and lead to unintended consequences. Issues of stereotypes, origins of the gendered body, the materiality of fired clay and the rhetoric of representation are all in play. 

Select project publications: 

Spirits of Clay: Jomon and European Figurines

With Dr. Simon Kaner (University of East Anglia, UK), I coordinated a series of museum exhibitions and academic symposia. The project brought together prehistoric figurines from two of the world’s great traditions: the Japanese Jomon and the East European Neolithic. Through an exhibition at the British Museum (winter 2009/10) and the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts (spring 2010), the project assembled some of the world's outstanding examples of prehistoric art. Each exhibition complemented an academic symposium at which archaeologists, anthropologists, creative and visual artists presented new interpretations and approaches and debate questions of explanation and meaning. Major funding was provided by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (UK) [£349,500 / $689,878] and a range of public organizations in Europe and Japan.

Select project publications: 

  • Bailey, D.W. 2009. The Chobonaino Dogu: understanding a Late Jomon figure from Hakodate. In S. Kaner (ed.) The Power of Dogu, pp. 60-9 London: British Museum Press.
  • Bailey, D.W., Cochrane, A. and Zambelli, J. 2010. Unearthed: a Comparative Study of Jomon Dogu and Neolithic Figurines. Norwich: Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts.

Contested Histories of Angel Island

With Professor Peter Biella and film-makers Daniel Chein and Kelly Grabianowsky, I produced a film about the multiple histories and understanding of the Angel Island in the San Francisco Bay. The project aims to educate students, teachers and community members about the multicultural history of the Bay Area by focusing on the contested heritage of Angel Island, best know as the Ellis Island of the west. Contested Histories provides a unique forum for multiple perspectives on the past as it has been created and as it continues to be constructed, reconstructed and exploited. The project is supported by the generous funding of the Farnley Tynas Foundation.

Select project publications: 

  • What Was Angel Island? (DVD; 13:20 mins).

Southern Romania Archaeological Project

With Dr. Radian Andreescu (National Museum of History, Bucureşti), I am co-Principal Investigator of a multi-national excavation project (50-70 person team) in southern Romania. The Southern Romania Archaeological Project (SRAP) started in 1998. The project investigates the origins and consequences of sedentism from 8000-2500 BC along the Teleorman River, a Danube tributary. SRAP is a collaboration between Cardiff University, the National Historical Museum of Romania and the Teleorman Regional Historical Museum in Alexandria (Romania). Participants are drawn from the University of Wales at Aberystwyth (Mark Macklin, Tom Coulthard), Nottingham (Amy Bogaard), St. Andrews (Ruth Robinson), Sheffield (Mike Charles, Rob Craigie), Bristol (Richard Evershed) and Leiden (Laurens Thissen). Funding has come from UK (British Academy, Society of Antiquaries of London) and Romanian sources (Ministry of Culture, Teleorman County Council).

Select project publications: 

  • Bailey, D.W., Andreescu, R., Howard, A.J., Macklin, M.G. and Mills, S. 2002. Alluvial landscapes in the temperate Balkan Neolithic: transitions to tells. Antiquity 76: 349-55.
  • Bailey, D.W., Howard, R., Macklin, M., Andreescu, R. and Mills, S. 2003. The origins of villages in the Balkan Neolithic and the alluvial history of a Danube tributary. In A. Howard, D. Passmore and M. Macklin (eds) Alluvial Archaeology, pp. 24-43. Rotterdam: Brill.
  • Bailey, D.W., Andreescu, R., Thissen, L., Howard, A., Macklin, M., Haită, C. and Mills, S. 2004. Landscape archaeology of Neolithic southcentral Romania: aims, methods and preliminary results of the Southern Romania Archaeological Project. Studi şi Cercetări de Istorie Veche şi Arheologie (Bucureşti) 52: 3-40.
  • Howard, A.J., Macklin, M.G., Bailey, D.W., Mills, S. and Andreescu, R. 2004. Late-glacial and Holocene river development in the Teleorman Valley on the southern Romanian Plain. Journal of Quaternary Studies 19(3): 271-80.
  • Bailey, D.W. 2006. Studying the Neolithic: an argument against generalization. Cultură şi Civilizaţie la Dunărea de Jos (Călăraşi, Romania) 22: 85-96
  • Evershed, R.P., Payne, S., Sherratt, A.G., Copley, M.S., Coolidge, J., Urem-kotsu, D., Kotsakis, K., Ozdoğan, M., Ozdoğan, A.E., Nieuwenhuyse, O., Akkermans, P.M.M.G, Bailey, D.W. , Andeescu, R., Campbell, S., Farid, S., Hodder, I., Yalman, N., Ozbaşaran, M., Biçakci, E., Garfinkel, Y., Levy, T. Burton, M. 2008. Earliest date for milk use in the Near East and southeastern Europe linked to cattle herding. Nature 455(7212): 538-31.
  • Bailey, D.W., Mirea, P., Thissen, L., Mills, S. and Andreescu, R. 2012. The early Neolithic in Southern Romania. In D. Boric (ed.) Neolithic Identities, pp. 123-45. Oxford: Oxbow.
  • Bailey, D.W. 2018. Breaking the Surface: an Art/Archaeology of Prehistoric Architecture. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Podgoritsa Archaeological Project

From 1993-1995, with Ruth Tringham (UC Berkeley) I was co-Principal Investigator of the Podgoritsa Archaeological Project (15-25 people) in northeastern Bulgaria. At Podgoritsa we investigated the extra-mural dimensions of a late Neolithic (fifth millennium BC) tell settlement. Results documented the vacillation in availability of landscape (for cultivation and for other uses) and the gradual rise in local water-tables, a rise that conditioned the eventual abandonment of the settlement. Funding came from UK sources as well as from US National Science Foundation.

Select project publications: 

  • Bailey, D.W. 1995. Checkmate. Times Higher Education Supplement. September 22. [this is the article about the interrogation..though much more could be written]
  • Bailey, D.W., Tringham, R.E., Bass, J., Hamilton, M, Neuman, H., Angelova, I. and Raduncheva, A. 1998. Expanding the dimensions of early agricultural tells: the Podgoritsa Archaeological Project. Journal of Field Archaeology 25(4): 373-96.
  • Bailey, D.W. 1998. Archaeology as socio-politics: practice and ideology in Bulgaria. In L. Meskell (ed.) Archaeology Under Fire: Nationalism, Politics and Heritage in the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East, pp. 87-110. London: Routledge.


My publications include six authored or edited books as well as journal articles and book chapters, reviews and more popular commentaries. 

View my site

Classes Taught as SF State


  • Anth 110: Introduction to Archaeology
  • Anth 301: Foundations of Archaeology: Theory
  • Anth 450: Archaeology of Ritual and Religion
  • Anth 721: Graduate Seminar in the Archaeological Theory
  • Anth 899: Graduate Independent Study: Origins of the Neolithic
  • Anth 899: Graduate Independent Study: Archaeology of Gardens 

Visual Anthropology/Visual Culture

  • Anth 130: Introduction to Visual Anthropology
  • Anth 303: Foundations of Visual Anthropology
  • Anth 326: Origins and Art and Visual Representation
  • Anth 328: Anthropology and Photography
  • Anth 699: Independent Study: Photomontage
  • Anth 720: Graduate Seminar in Visual Anthropology: Core Concepts
  • Anth 750: Graduate Seminar in Visual Anthropology: the Fixed Image
  • Anth 899: Graduate Independent Study: Mimbres Iconography

Core Skills (Graduate-level)

  • Anth 715: Anthropological Writing
  • Anth 717: Research Design

Douglass Bailey giving a lecture