Thursday, February 14, 2019
4:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Herskovits Library of African Studies
at Northwestern University

1970 Campus Drive, Evanston, IL

4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. | Library Tour | 5th Floor East

5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. | Talk | Ver Steeg Lounge 3rd Floor 


Amanda Logan, PhD., Assistant Professor, Anthropology, Northwestern University

Archaeology of Food Security in West Africa

Have Africans always suffered from hunger? This question is rarely posed, because it is assumed that scarcity is a natural feature of African agriculture and foodways. In this talk, Professor Logan shows how archaeology challenges this narrative, through tracking changing levels of food security over time. Focusing on Ghana, she demonstrates that people maintained a high level of food security during the worst drought on record in the last millennium, an achievement that has until now remained hidden. Chronic food insecurity only developed relatively recently, in association with integration into global market economies and colonial interventions. Prof. Logan considers how we can use this new narrative to rethink Africa’s food futures.

Dr. Amanda Logan is currently Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Northwestern University. She received her PhD from the University of Michigan in 2012. Trained as an archaeologist, she has worked at sites across the African continent, but has a particular affinity for West Africa (Ghana and Nigeria). She has published numerous peer-reviewed journal articles, including “Why Can’t People Feed Themselves? Archaeology as Alternative Archive of Food Security in Banda, Ghana” in American Anthropologist that won the Willey Award from the American Anthropological Association. She has recently submitted a book called Beyond Scarcity: Excavating African Food History that critiques the assumptions of scarcity in scholarly work on African foodways, and offers a new narrative based on archaeological and ethnographic work in Ghana.

Marcos Leitão de Almeida, PhD. Candidate, African History, Northwestern University

Kongolese Therapeutic Insurgencies in the Atlantic Age: Kongo, Brazil, and Haiti

Lower Congo communities in West-Central Africa provided a substantial population of enslaved Africans in different colonies in the Americas, from the southern U.S. to southern Brazil. Between 1700 and 1872, Lower Congo slaves shaped major struggles against slavery and the slave trade in the history of the Atlantic world. They did so based on ideas and political cultures with a long history in their old homes. In this talk, Almeida explores the slave routes and forms of enslavement within the Lower Congo that supplied slave ships at the Congolese coast and discusses how Lower Congo ideas around witchcraft, healing, and moral order informed major political movements against slaving practices in revolutionary Haiti, southeastern Brazil, and the Kingdom of Kongo.

Marcos Leitão de Almeida is a Ph.D. candidate in African History at Northwestern University and a Presidential Fellow of the Graduate School. He is a historian interested in exploring and developing new methodologies to study the early history of oral societies in the African continent. His work focuses on the long history of slavery in Central Africa and is methodologically situated at the intersection of the global history of slavery, anthropology and historical linguistics. In 2016-17, he was awarded an IDRF-SSRC fellowship to conduct archival research in Belgium and Brazil and fieldwork in Angola.

Before coming to Northwestern, Marcos specialized in the Social History of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade between Brazil and West-Central Africa during the 19th century. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in History from Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio, 2006), and received a Master of Arts in Social History from State University of Campinas (UNICAMP, 2012). His M.A. Thesis, “Ladinos e Boçais: the Language Regime of the South Atlantic (1831 –c.1850)”, won The Palmares Foundation Award for the best research on Afro-Brazilian Culture (2011-2012)