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Stephanie is a Swahili archaeologist, specialising in East African coastal urbanism, material culture, and social practice. She completed a BA in Archaeology at the University of Bristol in 1998, followed by an M.Phil (2000) and PhD (2005) from the University of Cambridge. Stephanie’s PhD research was based on the Swahili coast of Tanzania, where she conducted a survey of the region around Kilwa Kisiwani, a major Swahili town of c. AD800 – 1500. Stephanie continues to work in east Africa, with a series of projects that focus on Swahili towns, trade, material culture, and identity.
After completing her PhD, Stephanie moved to Nairobi to become the Assistant Director of the British Institute in Eastern Africa from 2005 to 2008. She came to York from a Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellowship held at the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology in Bristol.
Stephanie has conducted fieldwork in several regions of the East African coast, including her PhD research at Kilwa Kisiwani, Tanzania, survey on Mafia Island (with Dr Paul Lane and Dr Bertram Mapunda), excavations at Vumba Kuu, Kenya (with the National Museums of Kenya) and along caravan routes through Tanzania, with work near Lake Tanganyika. Currently, she is working on a project back in the Kilwa archipelago, at Songo Mnara (with Dr Jeffrey Fleisher). Excavations at this 14th – 16th century stonetown are aimed towards providing a richer understanding of the uses of urban space among the Swahili, and the ways that objects were bound up in spatial practices inside and outside the structures.
This work at Songo Mnara builds on a broader interest in material culture and spatial practice as a route through which to approach issues of society, identity and interaction. In addition, Stephanie has research interests in urbanism, and in the precolonial African past more generally.
(with Dr Jeffrey Fleisher, Rice University)
As part of these large-scale excavations at a prominent Swahili stonetown, the domestic spaces are a particular focus, investigating the ways that these were lived in and structured through practice. This is part of a comprehensive approach to the site, exploring both the areas outside houses and the larger, public spaces and areas of memorialisation and ritual.
(with Dr Søren Sindbaek, Aarhus University and University of York)
Entrepot is a collaborative project exploring the transformations that characterised the early medieval period in maritime societies across the globe. The project is organised between Aarhus University (Denmark) and the University of York. I am sparheading investigations of the Indian Ocean during this time, working in particular with Dr Jason Hawkes. We will be exploring evidence for shared practices in East African and Indian sites, as well as conducting limited survey to understand the nature of urbanism in these different regions during the late first millennium AD.
(with Dr Jeffrey Fleisher, Rice University)
British Academy-funded research has involved revisiting excavated collections on the East African coast, in order to explore diversity among the ceramics that characterise the early layers of Swahili sites. Collections relating to Manda, Ungwana, Unguja Ukuu, Dakawa, Tumbe, Bandarikuu, and Chibuene have already been added to a database. It is hoped that this will allow us to explore regional variation and aspects of local production and use. The full database is also available online, hosted by ADS.
Hayley McParland - Exploring Urban Space through Phytolith Studies
Sep 2012: “Practices of distinction and precolonial trade in Tanzania” Connections, Contributions and Complexity: Africa’s Later Holocene Archaeology in Global Perspective, University of Cambridge
Sep 2012: “Material and immaterial resources”, Global Middle Ages Project, Oxford
Mar 2012: “Water control at the 14th – 16th century Swahili town of Songo Mnara, Tanzania”, Water systems and urbanization in Africa and beyond, Uppsala University
Mar 2012: “House power and hospitality on the Swahili coast”, University of Newcastle
Nov 2011: “Research, conservation and community archaeology at Songo Mnara, Tanzania”, Our Future’s Past: Sustainable Cultural Heritage in the 21st Century, British School at Rome
Nov 2011: “Swahili urban space in the Kilwa archipelago: Songo Mnara in the 14th-15th centuries”, Universite de Paris-Sorbonne (with J. Fleisher)
Mar 2011: “Ceramics and the early Swahili: deconstructing Tana Ware”, Uppsala University (with J. Fleisher)
Apr 2011: “Songo Mnara and the Kilwa archipelago: A summary of ongoing research”, Society for the Global Middle Ages Symposium, Dar es Salaam (with J. Fleisher)
2010: “A History of the World in 100 objects: Kilwa” Film content for British Museum
2010: “Open Spaces and Private Places: Songo Mnara in the Indian Ocean world”, UCL
2010: “Iron Slag and Mini-Middens: Geophysical Survey on the East African Coast”, Current Archaeology weekend, British Museum
2009: “Consumption and composition: feasting, display and the negotiation of power on the Swahili coast”, Bristol Archaeology and Anthropology Research Seminars
2009: “Open Spaces and Private Places: Songo Mnara in the Indian Ocean world”, Global Institute, University of Bergen (with
2008: “Daily Life in an East African Coastal Town: Materiality and Consumption at Vumba Kuu, Kenya, 13th - 15th century AD”, Rice University, Houston
2004: “Complex identities at Kilwa: the construction of elites on the southern Swahili coast”, Garrod Research seminar, Cambridge
2012: “House power and Hospitality on the Swahili Coast” European Association of Archaeologists, Helsinki
2012: “Creating an online ceramics database” Society of Africanist Archaeologists, Toronto
2012: “Sacred and mundane in the life of the Swahili stonehouse” Society of American Archaeology, Memphis
2012: “Reinvestigating the connection between the Early Tana Tradition and the early Swahili: Pottery, Interaction Spheres,
and Identity”, Africa in the Indian Ocean, University of Oxford
2010: “The Swahili House revisited”, Society of Africanist Archaeologists/PanAfrican Association for Prehistory, Dakar
2010: “Ceramics and Society on the East African coast”, Society of Africanist Archaeologists/PanAfrican Association for Prehistory, Dakar
2010: “Retaining the Ancestors: Architectural Conservation and Community Archaeology at Songo Mnara, Tanzania”, American Anthropological Association, New Orleans
2010: “Problems with Practice: understanding objects and spaces in African archaeology”, US Theoretical Archaeology Group, Providence RI
2009: “Consumption and the construction of Swahili identities: the case of Vumba”, Chacmool, Calgary.
2009: “Digital Heritage: Challenge and Opportunity for Africa”, Africa’s Fragile Heritage, Cambridge.
2009: “Swahili urban landscapes on the East African coast”, Society of American Archaeologists, Atlanta.
2008: “Entangled peoples: global encounters and the maintenance of tradition”, Theoretical Archaeology Group, Southampton
2008:”Consuming cosmopolitanism: materiality and Swahili identities” African Studies Association, Chicago
2008: “Power, materiality and ritual at Vumba Kuu, Kenya” Zanzibar Indian Ocean Research Institute
2008: “Lines of Desire: Power, Consumption and Materiality along a Tanzanian caravan route”, Society of American Archaeology, Vancouver
2007: “Pots, People and Practice: Ethnoarchaeological research among the potters of Mafia”, American Anthropological Association, Washington
2007: “Recovering and remembering a slave route in central Tanzania”, Archaeological and Historical Dimensions of Slavery in Africa, British Academy and UCL
2006: “Facing Many Ways: Perceptions of Landscape on the Swahili Coast”, Prehistory Society of Kenya, Nairobi.
2006: “Women’s work: the importance of gender in the reconstruction of consumption on the East African coast of the 10th – 15th centuries AD”, Maritime Heritage of the Western Indian Ocean, Zanzibar
2006: “Beyond class: nested identities in the coastal landscape”, Society for Africanist Archaeologists, Calgary.
2005: “Considering urbanism: change and continuity in the development of a Swahili town”, Defining Social Complexity: approaches to power and interaction in the archaeological record, Cambridge
2004: “Complexity on the coast: new research from Kilwa”, Society for Africanist Archaeologists, Bergen