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Department of Archaeology


‘BODIES MATTER’ focuses on the material culture of bodies (and the self) in colonial borderlands by comparing three frontiers at various periods and geographies: the Spanish Empire’s southern borderland in the Americas in the AD 16th-19th century, the Punic western Mediterranean in the 6th-2nd century BC, and the Islamic-Christian Ethiopian frontier between the AD 10th and 15th century.

Drawing on decolonial approaches, this project examines how people lived on, through, and against frontiers by analysing architecture, clothing and body adornment, and burials. In doing so, this research brings together material science, archaeology, ethnography, and history to get a better understanding of how bodies affected and were affected by frontiers. The aim is to evaluate continuities and discontinuities in kinaesthetic and sensorial experiences; to assess the impact of colonial and imperial policies on slaves, indigenous communities, women, and other subaltern groups; and to explore material frameworks for the study of colonial frontiers.

The project is funded by the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research under the Renfrew Fellowship scheme.

Collaborators: Peter van Dommelen (Brown University); Alfredo González-Ruibal (Spanish National Research Council); Simón Urbina (Universidad Austral de Chile) and Leonor Adán (Universidad Austral de Chile)

Project Website


McDonald Institute Renfrew fellowship

Project Tags

Environment, Landscapes and Settlement
Material Culture
Periods of interest: 
Iron Age
Geographical areas: 
Research Expertise / Fields of study: 
Material Culture
Built Environment
Artefact Analysis & Technology
Archaeological Theory
Field Methods
Epigraphy & Paleography
Cultural Heritage
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