Skip to main content

Amanda Logan

Assistant Professor

PhD Michigan 2012

Research and teaching interests

Archaeology, Inequality, Foodways, Food Insecurity, Environment, Gender, Political Economy, Structural Violence, Paleoethnobotany (macrobotanicals, phytoliths, starch grains), Ethnoarchaeology, Africa


Program of African Studies, Program in Environmental Policy and Culture, Buffett Institute for Global Studies


My overarching goal is to connect the past to the present through reframing the kinds of questions we ask and empirically bridging the modern/premodern divide. My current focus is building an archaeology of food security that traces how, where, and when chronic hunger emerged across the African continent. Drawing insight from political ecology and critical development studies, I utilize archaeology to highlight the political and economic shifts that paved the way for food insecurity, rather than attributing it to environmental change alone. By using empirical data to construct alternative narratives of underdevelopment and agricultural achievement, I question the common misconception that African food insecurity is a “natural” outcome of environmental catastrophes and “antiquated” agricultural strategies.

My recent publications examine continuity and change in food practices as Banda, Ghana was absorbed into global networks over the last millennium. Using archaeobotanical, environmental, and ethnoarchaeological data, I show how Africans were able to weather a severe, centuries-long drought just as Europeans arrived on the coast; and that a major decline in food security occurred only recently, in association with increasingly globalized economies and colonial rule.

A broader umbrella project, “Archaeobotany of Food Security in Africa,” will continue to challenge narratives of African food insecurity through analysis of paleoethnobotanical data from sites around the African continent. Macroremains have formed my primary means of deciphering African plant use in the past. Building on my previous phytolith and starch grain research in South America, I am now developing microbotanical identification methods for major African crop plants, with an eye towards tracing American and African crops after 1500 CE.

At the center of these themes is a challenge posed to me by the Banda community to make archaeology “of use” to them. I’ve conducted several archaeological ethnographic studies on recent shifts in food and agriculture, women’s work, and domestic architecture. In 2014, I shared narratives drawn from these studies with the Banda community in the form of a Heritage Day and associated Olden Times Food Fair event. These experiences underscored the need for a focus on “edible heritage” in Banda, starting with a Banda Heritage Facebook page, and with many more projects to come.

My current writing project is a book entitled Beyond Scarcity: Excavating African Food History. The first book to focus on food security in Africa’s past, Beyond Scarcity shows how a community-centered, long-term perspective can change how we approach African foodways in the present. Combining archaeological and environmental data with food ethnography, I argue that the successes of the past can boost pride in edible heritage and bolster local food sovereignty.

My research has been funded by the National Science Foundation and the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, and was recognized by the 2013 Society of American Archaeology Dissertation Award.

Courses Taught

101  Food and Culture

101  African and African-American Foodways

322  Introduction to Archaeological Research Design and Methods

390  Archaeology of Food and Drink

390  Anthropology of Food Security and Sustainability

490  Archaeologies, Communities, and Publics

490  Anthropology of Food


Book Manuscript in Preparation

Beyond Scarcity: Excavating African Food History

Edited Journal Issue

Logan, Amanda L., and Cameron Gokee, guest editors (2014) Comparing Craft and Culinary Practice in AfricaAfrican Archaeological Review 31(2). 10 articles, 306 pp.

Selected Articles

Logan, Amanda L., and Ann B. Stahl (In press) Genealogies of Practice in and of the Environment in Banda, Ghana. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory.

Logan, Amanda L. (2017) Will Agricultural Technofixes Feed the World? Short- and Long-Term Tradeoffs of Adopting High-Yielding Crops. In The Give and Take of Sustainability: Archaeological and Anthropological Perspectives, edited by Michelle Hegmon. Cambridge University Press.

Logan, Amanda L. (2016) “Why Can’t People Feed Themselves?”: Archaeology as Alternative Archive of Food Security in Banda, Ghana. American Anthropologist 118 (3): 508-524.

Logan, Amanda L. (2016) An Archaeology of Food Security in Banda, Ghana. Archeological Papers of the American Anthropological Association 27: 106-119. 

Ball, Terry, Karol Chandler-Ezell, Neil Duncan, Ruth Dickau, Thomas C. Hart, Jose Iriarte, Carol Lentfer, Amanda Logan, Houyuan Lu, Marco Madella, Deborah M. Pearsall, Dolores Piperno, Arlene M. Rosen, Luc Vrydaghs, Alison Weisskopf, Jianping Zhang (2016) Phytoliths as a Tool for Studying Agricultural Origins and Dispersal around the WorldJournal of Archaeological Science 68: 32-45.

Hamada, Shingo, Richard Wilk, Amanda Logan, Sara Minard, and Amy Trubek (2015) The Future of Food Studies. Food, Culture, and Society 18(1):167-186.

Logan, Amanda L., and M. Dores Cruz (2014) Gendered Taskscapes: Food, Farming, and Craft Production in Banda, Ghana, in the 18th to 21st centuries. African Archaeological Review 31(2): 203-231.

Gokee, Cameron D., and Amanda L. Logan (2014) Themes in Comparing Craft and Culinary Practice. Introduction to Special Issue of African Archaeological Review 31(2): 87-104.

Stahl, Ann B., and Amanda L. Logan (2014) Resilient Villagers: Eight centuries of continuity and change in Banda village life. In Current Perspectives in the Archaeology of Ghana, edited by J. Anquandah, B. Kankpeyeng and W. Apoh, pp. 44-63. Sub-Saharan Publishers, Accra.

Logan, Amanda L. (2013) Cha(lle)nging Our Questions: Towards an Archaeology of Food Security. SAA Archaeological Record 13(5): 20-23.

Logan, Amanda L., Christine A. Hastorf, and Deborah M. Pearsall (2012) “Let’s drink together”: Early ceremonial use of maize in the Titicaca BasinLatin American Antiquity 23(3): 235-258.

Logan, Amanda L. and Catherine D’Andrea (2012) Oil palm, arboriculture, and changing subsistence practices during Kintampo times (3600-3200 bp, Ghana). Quaternary International 249: 63-71.

D’Andrea, A.C., S. Kahlheber, A.L. Logan, and D.J. Watson (2007)   Early Domesticated Cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) from Central Ghana.  Antiquity 81: 686-698.

D'Andrea, A. Catherine, Amanda L. Logan, and Derek J. Watson (2006) Oil Palm and Prehistoric Subsistence in Tropical West Africa. Journal of African Archaeology 4(2):195-222.

Back to top