Chris Fennell is an Associate Professor of Anthropology and Law at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, specializing in legal anthropology, African diaspora studies, and historical anthropology. He has been appointed a University Scholar in recognition of excellence in his research, scholarship, and teaching. Fennell has conducted archaeological investigations at 19th century sites in Illinois, Virginia, and South Carolina with grant support by the National Science Foundation and National Endowment for the Humanities. After clerking for the Honorable Jane R. Roth (D. Del./3d Circuit), he was a practicing attorney for several years in Washington, D.C., in the areas of antitrust, contracts, product liability, torts, false claims, and securities disputes.
He has also taught at the University of Texas Law School, University of Virginia, Roosevelt University, and Texas State University. Fennell offers law school courses on anthropology, law, social norms, and the dynamics of racism, as well as archaeology courses for undergraduate and graduate students, and has received a number of awards for teaching excellence.
Fennell served as the Director of Graduate Studies and Associate Head of the Department of Anthropology and currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Society for Historical Archaeology and the Executive Board of the Collaborative for Cultural Heritage and Museum Practices. He is the founding editor of the peer-reviewed Journal of African Diaspora Archaeology and Heritage (Maney Press). His publications include the book Crossroads and Cosmologies: Diasporas and Ethnogenesis in the New World (University Press of Florida, 2007), for which he received the 2009 John Cotter award from the Society for Historical Archaeology and the 2010 Gustave Arlt award from the Council for Graduate Schools for outstanding contributions to the humanities.