Kathryn de Luna
Kathryn de Luna studies early African History, adapting archaeological, linguistic, paleoenvironmental, and genetic data to the historian’s archive. Her research has explored the connections between political culture and changing practices in and on the environment and in and on the body. Her first book, Collecting Food, Cultivating People (Yale, 2016) explores the histories of subsistence over the last three thousand years in central Africa and won the Agricultural History Society’s Wallace Award and was named a CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title. She is currently working on three projects. Funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities supports the first project, which explores the relationship between mobility and climate in medieval central Africa by combining language evidence with new archaeological excavation and survey as well as various methods from the archaeological sciences and biogeochemistry to reconstruct individual migration biographies and fire events for a period and place without any documentation and where we rarely have such micro-scale data on environmental history. The second project, funded by the Mellon Foundation, traces the interconnected histories of pyrotechnology, landscape use (mining, charcoal making, and swidden agriculture), politics, senses, and emotions in central Africa over the last three thousand years. The National Research Council of Norway supports a comparative project on the Iron Age and modern histories of landscape use relating to metallurgy and potting in central and Southern Africa, a story recovered through the methods of archaeological science, ethnography, community mapping, and historical linguistics.