Ph.D. (U of California, Berkeley)
Professor and Chair
I am an anthropological archaeologist with research interests in Africa. Since the mid-1980s I've engaged in a community-based historical and archaeological study of how daily life in the rural Banda area of west central Ghana has been reshaped through West Africa's involvement in global trade (via trans-Saharan and later Atlantic networks) over the last thousand years. My research draws on broader theoretical and methodological interests in: political economy; material culture studies; analogy; and the production of history in the present. In my research and writing I have been particularly concerned to address the methodological challenges of working with multiple lines of evidence (ethnographic, oral historical, documentary and archaeological) and to demonstrate the value of archaeological sources for historical anthropological inquiry. My earlier work on dietary reconstruction and the transition to food production in Africa shapes my current interest in the dietary changes associated with global exchange. A particular focus of my recent research and teaching is the active role of material culture in social negotiations and culture-making practices. The broader goal of these endeavours is to develop "material histories" that help us to understand the role of global connections in shaping the social and political economic worlds of colonizers and colonized alike.
Dr. Ann Stahl presents a synopsis of her research interests as an anthropological archaeologist in rural West Africa on You-Tube.
“Springerbriefs in Archaeology: Contributions from Africa”
I am the inaugural series editor for a new Springerbriefs series aimed at rapid dissemination of recent research in African archaeology to a wide-ranging audience. Individual volumes will range in time from a focus on the earliest archaeological traces to contemporary material practice. The aim is to develop the implications and significance of research in African archaeology and ethnoarchaeology for debates and perspectives in global archaeology. Of particular interest are volumes that spark innovative thinking across traditional disciplinary and evidential boundaries. Prospective authors are encouraged to contact me for more information at email@example.com
"Genealogies of Practice & Global Entanglements in Banda, Ghana, AD 1000-1900"
I am joined by graduate students from several universities (University of Victoria, University of Ghana, Binghamton University and the University of Michigan) in an ongoing project supported by US National Science Foundation funds (2008-2010) that continues the long-term work of the Banda Research Project (BRP). Our strategy has been to investigate successively earlier sites in Banda as a means of gaining comparative insight into the dynamics of cultural practice. Drawing on oral historical, archival and archaeological evidence, we have documented the dynamics of cultural practice as the area was drawn into the British colonial sphere (after 1880); as Banda became subject to the expansionist Asante state and the external slave trade gave way to intensified internal trade (1770s to 1880s); and as Banda peoples negotiated the southward shift in the gravity of trade with the opening of Atlantic networks (from the early 17th century). This work challenges conventional images of West African societies as enmeshed in unchanging tradition and contributes to historical anthropological understandings of global entanglements.
In this project phase we are focusing attention on the period when Banda became enmeshed in trans-Saharan trade. Excavations in summer 2008 & 2009 generated evidence on practices of ritual, diet and craft production in a period when Banda villagers were forging connections with urban centers on the Niger River (ca. AD 1000-1400). At the same time, our current project is directed at enhancing our understanding variation within our temporal phases. This focus is intended to help us understand how communities were formed and reconfigured through material practice (the making and using of pottery and metal; the manipulation of objects in ritual; the acquisition, preparation and consumption of foods; and the depositional practices that created archaeological deposits). Comparative analyses of practices within and across archaeological phases will provide insight into the genealogical connections between communities as they negotiated a changing geopolitical landscape.
"Relocating Lives: Documenting the Effects of Bui Dam Resettlement in the Banda Area, Ghana"
Several contemporary Banda villages lie in the flood zone of a hydroelectric dam currently under construction. The goal of this community-initiated project has been to visually document through print photography and collaborative film-making daily life prior to relocation as a baseline for a longer-term project in which we will follow villagers as they settle in their new village. Supported by a University of Victoria Internal Research Grant, Devin Tepleski, a visual anthropology student from U Vic documented village life in summer 2009 before villagers are relocated to their new village.
2013 -2014 Courses
- Fall 2013 Term: ANTH 400A: History of Anthropological Theory; ANTH 500: Seminar: Anthropology Theory
- Spring 2014 Term: Co-teaching ANTH 571/671 with Dr. Alexandrine Boudreault-Fournier
- 2005 - (editor) African Archaeology: A Critical Introduction. Oxford: Blackwell Press.
- 2001 - Making History in Banda. Anthropological Visions of Africa's past. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Articles & Chapters
- Forthcoming: Circulations through Worlds Apart: Georgian & Victorian England in an African Mirror, In Materializing Colonial Encounters: Archaeologies of African Experience, edited by François G. Richard. NY: Springer.
2013 Archaeological Insights into Aesthetic Communities of Practice in the Western Volta Basin. African Arts 46(3): 54-67.
- 2012 Archaeology and the Study of Africa. In Oxford Bibliographies Online: African Studies, edited by Thomas Spear. New York: Oxford University Press.
- 2012 When Does History Begin? Material Continuity and Change in West Africa. In Decolonizing Indigenous Histories: Prehistoric/Colonial Transitions in Archaeology, edited by Maxine Oland, Siobhan Hart and Liam Frink, pp. 158-177. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.
- 2010 'Route Work' through Alternative Archives: Reflections on Cross-Disciplinary Practice. South African Historical Journal 62(2): 252-267.
- 2010. Material Histories. In The Oxford Handbook of Material Culture Studies, edited by Dan Hicks and Mary Beaudry, pp. 148-170. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- 2009 - The Archaeology of African History. International Journal of African Historical Studies 42 (2): 241-255.
- 2009 (Ann B. Stahl & Adria LaViolette) “Introduction: Current Trends in the Archaeology of African History.” Special Issue of the International Journal of African Historical Studies edited by Ann B. Stahl and Adria LaViolette 42(3): 347-350.
- 2008 - (Ann B. Stahl, Maria das Dores Cruz, Hector Neff, Michael D. Glascock, Robert J. Speakman, Bretton Giles & Leith Smith) Ceramic Production, Consumption and Exchange in the Banda Area, Ghana: Insights from Compositional Analyses. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 27: 363-381.
- 2008 - The Slave Trade as Practice and Memory. What are the Issues for Archaeologists? In Invisible Citizens: Captives and their Consequences, edited by Catherine M. Cameron, pp. 25-56. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press.
- 2008 - Dogs, Pythons, Pots and Beads: The Dynamics of Shrines and Sacrificial Practices in Banda, Ghana, AD 1400-1900. In Memory Work: The Materiality of Depositional Practice, edited by Barbara Mills & William Walker, pp. 159-186. Sante Fe NM: School of Advanced Research Press.
- 2007 - Entangled Lives: The Archaeology of Daily Life in the Gold Coast Hinterlands, AD 1400-1900. In Archaeology of Atlantic Africa and the African Diaspora, edited by Akinwumi Ogundiran & Toyin Falola, pp. 49-76. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
- 2004 - Political Economic Mosaics: Archaeology of the Last Two Millennia in Tropical Sub-Saharan Africa. Annual Review of Anthropology 33:145-172.
- 2004 - (Ann B. Stahl & Peter W. Stahl) Ivory production & consumption in Ghana in the early second millennium AD. Antiquity 78:86-101.
- 2004 - Comparative Insights into the Ancient Political Economies of West Africa. In Archaeological Perspectives on Political Economies, edited by Gary M. Feinman and Linda M. Nicholas. Pp. 253-270. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press.
- 2004 - (Ann Stahl, Rob Mann and Diana Loren) Writing for Many: Interdisciplinarity, Constructionism and the Practices of Writing. Historical Archaeology 38(2):83-102.
- 2002 - Colonial Entanglements and the Practices of Taste: An Alternative to Logocentric Approaches. American Anthropologist 104(3):827-845.
- 2001 - Historical Process and the Impact of the Atlantic Trade on Banda, Ghana, 1800-1920. In West Africa during the Atlantic Slave Trade: Archaeological Perspectives, edited by Christopher R. DeCorse, pp. 38-58. London: Leicester University Press.