miriam stark and tep sohka
Professor Miriam Stark and Tep Sokha (Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, Cambodia) consult during a Khmer Production and Exchange Ceramics Workshop at APSARA National Authority, June 2017

President Joe Biden announced his intention to appoint University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Professor Miriam T. Stark to serve in one of the three archaeologist positions on the 11-member U.S. Cultural Property Advisory Committee in the U.S. Department of State.

The committee advises the president (or his designee) on appropriate U.S. action in response to requests from state parties for assistance in protecting their cultural heritage, pursuant to Article 9 of the 1970 UNESCO Convention against the illicit export and transfer of ownership of cultural property. It makes recommendations on issues that prevent stolen cultural objects from countries around the world from being illegally trafficked into the U.S. and helps preserve artifacts in a legal manner for scientific, educational and cultural purposes only. Common types of cultural property include archaeological artifacts, rare manuscripts and objects used in ceremonies.

person in sand talking to someone holding a camera
Professor Miriam Stark explains excavation strategies at Prasat Baset to Singapore-based Peter Lee during
the 2019 filming of Cambodia’s Temple Kingdom: The Mark of Empire.

“I am so honored to be considered for this position with the Cultural Property Advisory Committee, which serves an essential role in the country’s efforts to protect cultural heritage,” said Stark. “My long-term work in Cambodia and with Cambodian colleagues has taught me the deep importance of protecting cultural heritage, and the U.S. has an important role to play as a world leader in this field.”

The Cultural Property Advisory Committee reviews requests for import restrictions submitted to the U.S. by foreign governments, considers proposals to extend existing agreements and emergency actions, carries out ongoing review of current import restrictions, and provides reports of its findings and recommendations to the State Department.

A few recent issues the committee has discussed include:

  • July 2022—Proposed extension of the cultural property agreement with the Government of Belize, which would continue import restrictions on stone, metal, ceramic, bone, shell, wood and glass objects from the Pre-Ceramic Period (c. 9,000 B.C.) through the Late Colonial Period.
  • July 2022—Proposed extension of the cultural property agreement with the Government of Libya, which would would continue import restrictions on certain archaeological material ranging in date from the Paleolithic Period (c.12,000 B.C.) to 1750 A.D. and certain ethnological material derived from sites of Islamic cultural importance.
  • April 2022—Review a request for cultural property import restrictions from the Government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, which would create import restrictions on archaeological and ethnological material from the Lower Paleolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic, Chalcolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Historic Pre-Muslim Period, Early Muslim Period, Mughal Sikh, and Colonial periods through the creation of Pakistan.

Stark is an anthropology professor in the College of Social Sciences (CSS). She has directed the UH Mānoa Center for Southeast Asian Studies since 2018 and is currently a Fulbright Senior Specialist and honorary research associate with the University of Sydney (Australia).

Stark has been a CSS faculty member since 1995 and has conducted work in Cambodia since 1996. With field experience in North America, the Philippines, Thailand and Cambodia, she has published more than 100 articles and chapters on Southeast Asian and North American archaeology. Important themes in her research include urbanization, ceramic production and distribution, and power relations in premodern Cambodia.