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Department of Archaeology

Dr Abigail Moffett

The European Research Council (ERC) has announced the successful scientists who have been awarded ERC Starting Grants. Dr Abigail Moffett, current Research Fellow at the Sainsbury Research Unit for the Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas at the University of East Anglia, has been awarded an ERC Starting Grant for her project ENTANGLED. The project will be based at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge.

Dr Moffett obtained a BA (history and archaeology), BA honours (archaeology) followed by a PhD in archaeology in 2017 from the University of Cape Town, South Africa. After her PhD she held a Claude Leon postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Cape Town (2018-2019) before moving to the UK to undertake a British Academy Newton International fellowship at the Sainsbury Research Unit, University of East Anglia (2020-2023). Dr Moffett’s research examines a variety of themes, from identity, power and craft production to the nature and impact of global entanglements across the African continent, and is underscored by a background in materials based analyses, archaeological theory and interdisciplinary research.

















Entangled materialities and new global histories from southern Africa (ENTANGLED), will examine global interactions from the coastal regions of southern Africa. This region was the most south westerly point of the highly interconnected Indian Ocean World during the Global Middle Ages (500-1500 CE). Despite the importance of this coastal area in linking the famed gold producing city state of Great Zimbabwe to the cosmopolitan trading hubs of East Africa, Arabia and southeast Asia, very little is known about who lived here and how trade was conducted. Shaped by a critical and robust theoretical framework of entanglement, ENTANGLED will approach the study of global interactions using an interdisciplinary methodology, combining cutting-edge archaeological materials-based analyses of objects traded and consumed by communities across the Indian Ocean with historical and ethnographic research aimed at uncovering ontologies of exchange. Addressing the development of maritime economies in southern Mozambique, the nature and directionality of trade routes that linked interior and coastal communities, and the value of traded items across diverse paths of exchange and consumption, ENTANGLED will assess the agency of coastal communities in shaping global connections and reposition southern Africa in global history.










Dr Moffett will be joining us in Cambridge in the new year.




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Dr Abigail Moffett