My interests range across archaeology, symbolic and linguistic anthropology, visual anthropology, and history. Trained as both an archaeologist and historian, I have researched and written on oral traditions and oral histories as indigenous historiographies—pushing beyond conventional separations of history and prehistory to develop an historical archaeology that examines historical representations and social memory in their multiple expressions.
Ethnoarchaeology has been one of my primary field methods over the last thirty years, with the ethnotechnology of iron production in the forefront. I am concerned with the theoretical issues embedded within the practice of ethnoarchaeology as well as the capacity of ethnoarchaeology to address symbolic life. Symbolic representations in the material world and symbolic analysis of both ethnohistoric texts and material residues continue to be important foci in my research and publications.
More recently my interests have turned to the play of tropes in historical representations as well as in archaeological interpretation. I have also turned my attention to critical perspectives on the use and treatment of time concepts in archaeology, world cultures, history, and anthropology. Issues of representation also figure prominently in my teaching of visual anthropology, particularly film.
African archaeology is my primary region of practice, with a sub-regional interest in eastern Africa . Over the last 10 years, I have been active in Eritrea , where I have developed an archaeology department and a long-term program of research into the growth of complex cultures in the 1 st millennium BC. Research sites over the last 20 years also include Gabon, Cameroon, Tanzania, and Uganda .
I teach courses in Film and Anthropology, World Civilizations (undergraduate), Ethnoarchaeology, Experimental Archaeology, Time and Archaeology, and Ideological and Symbolic Approaches in Archaeology.