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Basic Biographical Information
Mitch Allen is an archaeologist, publisher, and instructor. He obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology from the University of California, Santa Barbara; a Master’s degree in Near East Studies from the University of Michigan; and, in 1997, a Ph.D. in Archaeology from the University of California, Los Angeles. His dissertation was concerned with Philistia, the Neo-Assyrians, and world systems theory (Allen 1997). Allen has taught at several universities in the United States, such as Mills College, the University of Maryland, Santa Clara University, and Diablo Valley College. Allen has taught and published on an eclectic mix of subjects, including the ancient Near East, archaeology, and scholarly publishing. The latter was borne out of 35 years of experience in the publishing industry. After retiring from Left Coast Press in 2015, Allen founded the Scholarly Roadside Service, a consulting company that specializes in academic publishing.
Allen is best known for his career in publishing, during which he has overseen the publication of over 1000 books, articles, and software products. After working as an executive editor at Sage Publications, a social science publisher, Allen founded AltaMira Press in 1995 and directed its first 10 years. Under his supervision, AltaMira Press became a leading source of texts on cultural resource management, public history, and applied anthropology, among other topics. In 2005, Allen left AltaMira Press to establish Left Coast Press Inc. There, he publishes books and journals in the humanities and social sciences, covering a broad range of topics such as anthropology, archaeology, sociology, ethnic studies, gender studies, heritage studies, public history, museum practice, qualitative research, and ethics. Allen’s goal with both AltaMira Press and Left Coast Press was to create a space in which to produce progressive works (e.g., on indigenous and postcolonial archaeologies) and “find alternatives to traditional publishing” (Allen 2005). The latter can be demonstrated by the variety of unconventional textbooks Allen has published, including those that take the form of comic books and novels. Allen also encouraged the development of materials that would address gaps in scholarship, arguing that “our role is as much to shape scholarly output as to facilitate it” (Allen 2007a: 197). For example, at his urging, a textbook on archaeological ethics was written.
In addition to publishing the work of others, Allen has contributed several of his own publications, many of which are practical guides to navigating professional or academic life. He has advised on topics such as creative teaching methods (Allen 2007b), writing memorable and engaging works (Allen 2002), and the nature of academic publishing (Allen 2003; Allen and Joyce 2010).
In 2013, the World Archaeological Congress (WAC) gave Allen an International Achievement Award in recognition of his contributions to archaeological scholarship and publishing. Allen had collaborated with WAC to produce new publications such as the WAC Research Handbooks in Archaeology, the Archaeology and Indigenous Peoples series, and the journal Archaeologies.
- Allen, M.J. 1997. Contested peripheries: Philistia in the neo-Assyrian world-system. PhD dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles. Ann Arbor: University Microfilms.Google Scholar
- Allen, M.J. 2002. Reaching the hidden audience: Ten rules for the archaeological writer. In Public benefits of archaeology, ed. B. Little, 244–251. Gainesville: University Press of Florida.Google Scholar
- Allen, M.J. 2003. Field guide to archaeological publishing. SAA Archaeological Record 3 (1): 5–6.Google Scholar
- Allen, M.J. 2005. Charlie Brown in the classroom: Comics and other incendiary devices for teaching archaeology. SAA Archaeological Record 5 (5): 9–12.Google Scholar
- Allen, M.J. 2007a. Think small. Near Eastern Archaeology 70 (4): 196–197.Google Scholar
- Allen, M.J. 2007b. Scenarios for archaeologists: A teaching tool. In Archaeology to delight and instruct: Active learning in the university classroom, ed. H. Burke and C. Smith, 245–251. Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press.Google Scholar
- Allen, M.J., and R. Joyce. 2010. Communicating archaeology in the 21st century. In Voices in American archaeology, ed. W. Ashmore, D. Lippert, and B.J. Mills. Washington, DC: Society for American Archaeology.Google Scholar