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Adria LaViolette

Professor & Director of the Undergraduate Program in Anthropology

Ph.D. Washington University in St. Louis 1987


Archaeology of Africa; Iron Age; Swahili archaeology and history; precolonial urbanism; colonialism; household archaeology; craft specialization; collaborative heritage management.

I acknowledge that I live and work on the traditional lands of the Monacan people.

I am an Africanist archaeologist with a particular interest in the inner articulations and transformations of medium- and large-scale societies over the last two millennia. My PhD research was an ethnoarchaeological study focusing on blacksmiths, potters, and masons in Jenne, Mali, in the context of long-term traditions of such specializations in the Inland Niger Delta.  As a faculty member in archaeology at the University of Dar es Salaam, 1987-89, I began doing survey and excavation on Swahili archaeological sites along the mainland Tanzanian coast.  I also began research on Pemba Island, Tanzania, at the 15th-16th-century CE site of Mkama Ndume (Pujini), a site at the intersection of archaeology, ethnohistory, and history.  With Jeff Fleisher and Bertram Mapunda, I co-directed research in northern Pemba at the Swahili sites of Chwaka and Tumbe and smaller village sites, in which we explored household organization, regional political economy, the changing practice of Islam, the interface of domestic economy and long-distance trade networks with African mainland and Indian Ocean societies, and changes related to ongoing processes of urbanism; publication of that project is ongoing.  Most recently I co-directed a project with Neil Norman set on Unguja Island, Zanzibar, at a pair of Portuguese domestic/ agricultural/ warehouse settlements, Fukuchani and Mvuleni, to explore Portuguese/Swahili interaction in the 16th-17th centuries in the countryside. I have made a research priority the integration of village-dwelling and non-elite coastal peoples into Swahili historiography.  I maintain long-term collaborations with colleagues in Tanzania and contribute to local heritage development efforts.

Recent Courses

2800 Introduction to Archaeology, 3880 African Archaeology, 3885 Archaeology of Europe, 5589 Archaeology of Daily Life, 5589 Archaeology of Identity, 5589 Household Archaeology, 5885 Archaeology of Colonialism, 7060 Dissertation Proposal Writing Workshop

Selected Publications

In prep. - A LaViolette, J. B. Fleisher, and B. B. Mapunda (with contributions by S. Walshaw et al.). Town and Country: A Regional Study of Swahili Village and Urban Households on Pemba Island, Tanzania, AD 800-1600. (monograph)

In prep. - A. LaViolette and M. Pawlowicz. The Archaeology of a Swahili Citadel on Pemba Island, Tanzania.

2023 - A. LaViolette. Ethnoarchaeology. In A. Ogundiran and C. Gokee (eds.), Forum: The Future of African Archaeology, 2023 Perspectives. African Archaeological Review 40(4): 811-814.

2023 - A. LaViolette and N. Norman. The Archaeology of Portuguese Agricultural Outposts in the 17th-Century Zanzibar Countryside. In M. Hauser and J. J. Haines (eds.), The Archaeology of Modern Worlds in the Indian Ocean, pp. 128-151. Gainesville: University Press of Florida.

2023 - E. Baužytė, A. LaViolette, J. Fleisher, A. Juma, M. Horton, B. Mapunda, and S. Wynne-Jones. An Archaeometallurgical Investigation of Iron Smithing in Swahili Contexts and its Wider Implications. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences 15, 100.

2023 - A. LaViolette, J. Fleisher, and M. Horton. Assembling Islamic Practice in a Swahili Urban Landscape, 11th-16th Centuries. J. of Social Archaeology 23(1): 99-124.

2022 - P. Faulkner, A. Sarathi, A. Crowther, T. Smith, A. K. Ali, O. Haji, A. LaViolette, N. Norman, M. Horton, and N. Boivin. Holocene human-ecodynamics and the littoral zones of the Zanzibar Archipelago. For: Frontiers in Earth Science, Special issue 'Living on the Edge - Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Coastal and Marine Ecosystems in Human Prehistory', eds. M. Will, A. Green, J. M. Erlandson, X. Suarez Villagran, and A. Jerardino.

2018 - A. LaViolette and J. Fleisher. Developments in Rural Life on the Eastern African Coast, a.d. 700-1500. Journal of Field Archaeology 43(5): 380-398. DOI: 10.1080/00934690.2018.1489661

2018 - S. Wynne-Jones and A. LaViolette, eds. The Swahili World. Routledge Worlds Series. London: Routledge. (Winner, 2021 Society of Africanist Archaeologists Book Prize: Edited Volume, Specific). 

2018 - A. LaViolette and S. Wynne-Jones. The Swahili World. In The Swahili World (S. Wynne-Jones and A. LaViolette, eds.), pp. 1-14. London: Routledge.

2018  - A. LaViolette. Pemba Island, c. 1000-1500 CE. In The Swahili World (S. Wynne-Jones and A. LaViolette, eds.), pp. 231-238. London: Routledge.  

2018 - A. LaViolette. Craft and Industry. In The Swahili World (S. Wynne-Jones and A. LaViolette, eds.), pp. 319-334. London: Routledge.  

2015 - J. Fleisher, P. Lane, A. LaViolette, A. Christie, M. Horton, E. Pollard, E. Quintana Morales, T. Vernet, and  S. Wynne-Jones. When Did the Swahili become Maritime? American Anthropologist 117(1): 100-115.    

2013 - J. Fleisher and A. LaViolette. The Early Swahili Trade Village of Tumbe, Pemba Island, Tanzania, AD 600-950. Antiquity 87 (338): 1151-1168. 

2013 - A. LaViolette. The Swahili World. Oxford Handbook of African Archaeology (P. Mitchell and P. Lane, eds.), pp. 901-914. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

2013 - M. Pawlowicz and A. LaViolette. Swahili Historical Chronicles from an Archaeological Perspective: Bridging History, Archaeology, Coast and Hinterland in Southern Tanzania. In The Death of Prehistory (P. Schmidt and S. Mrozowski, eds.), pp. 117-140. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

2009 - A. LaViolette and J. Fleisher. The Urban History of a Rural Place: Swahili Archaeology on Pemba Island, Tanzania, AD 700-1500. International Journal of African Historical Studies 42(3): 433-455. 

2009 - A. Stahl and A. LaViolette, eds. The Archaeology of African History. Special Issue, International Journal of African Historical Studies 42(3). 

2008 - J. Flexner, J. Fleisher, and A. LaViolette. 'Bead Grinders' and Early Swahili Household Economy: Analysis of an Assemblage from Tumbe, Pemba Island, Tanzania, 7th-10th Centuries AD. Journal of African Archaeology 6(2): 161-181. 

2008 - A. LaViolette. Swahili Cosmopolitanism in Africa and the Indian Ocean World, A.D. 600-1500. Archaeologies: Journal of the World Archaeological Congress 4(1): 24-49.

2008 - A. LaViolette. Eastern African Coast, History of (Early to 1600). In New Encyclopedia of Africa, 2nd ed. (J. Middleton and J. C. Miller, eds.) Vol. 2, pp. 148-152. Detroit: Charles Scribner’s Sons.

2007 - A. LaViolette. Geographic Overviews, Africa, East: Swahili Coast. In Encyclopedia of Archaeology (D. M. Pearsall, ed.), pp. 19-21. New York: Academic Press.

2007 - J. Fleisher and A. LaViolette. The Changing Power of Swahili Houses, Fourteenth to Nineteenth Centuries A.D. In The Durable House: House Society Models in Archaeology (R. A. Beck, Jr., ed.), pp. 175-197. Carbondale, IL: Center for Archaeological Investigations. 

2005 - A. LaViolette. Encountering Archaeology in Tanzania: Experience in Teaching at the University of Dar es Salaam. In Salvaging Tanzania's Cultural Heritage (B. Mapunda and P. Msemwa, eds.), pp. 36-54. Dar es Salaam: Dar es Salaam University Press.

2005 - A. LaViolette and J. Fleisher. The Archaeology of Sub-Saharan Urbanism: Cities and their Countrysides. In African Archaeology: A Critical Introduction (A. B. Stahl, ed.), pp. 327-352. London: Blackwell.

2004 - A. LaViolette. Swahili Archaeology and History on Pemba, Tanzania: A Critique and Case Study of the Use of Written and Oral Sources in Archaeology. In African Historical Archaeologies (A. M. Reid and P. J. Lane, eds.), pp. 125-162. New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers.

2002 - A. LaViolette. Encountering Archaeology in Tanzania: Education, Development, and Dialogue at the University of Dar es Salaam. Anthropological Quarterly 75(2): 355-374.

2000 - A. LaViolette. Ethno-archaeology in Jenné, Mali: Craft and Status among Smiths, Potters and Masons. Monographs in African Archaeology 49. Oxford: Cambridge Monographs in African Archaeology 49, British Archaeological Reports International Series 838.

1999  - J. B. Fleisher and A. LaViolette. Elusive Wattle-and-Daub: Finding the Hidden Majority in the Archaeology of the Swahili. Azania 34: 87-108.

1999 - A. LaViolette. Swahili Archaeology on Pemba Island, Tanzania: Pujini, Bandari ya Faraji, and Chwaka, 1997-98. Nyame Akuma 53: 50-6.

1996 - A. LaViolette. Report on Excavations at the Swahili Site of Pujini, Pemba Island, Tanzania. Nyame Akuma 46: 72-83.

1995 - A. LaViolette and J. Fleisher. Reconnaissance of Sites Bearing Triangular Incised (Tana Tradition) War on Pemba Island, Tanzania. Nyame Akuma 44: 59-65. 

1995 - A. LaViolette. Women Craft Specialists in Jenne: The Manipulation of Mande Social Categories. In Status and Identity in West Africa: Nyamakalaw of Mande (D. C. Conrad and B. E. Frank, eds.). Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

1994 - A. LaViolette. Masons of Mali: A Millennium of Design and Technology in Earthen Materials. In Society, Culture, and Technology in Africa. (S. T. Childs, ed.), pp. 86-97. Philadelphia: MASCA Research Papers in Science and Archaeology.

1994 - A. LaViolette. Forgerons, menuisiers, orfèvres et piroguiers-charpentiers. In Djenné: Une Ville Millénaire au Mali (R. M. A. Bedaux and J. D. van der Waals, eds.), pp. 149-158. Leiden: Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkunde.

1994 - B. E. Frank and A. LaViolette. Le travail du cuir. In Djenné: Une Ville Millénaire au Mali (R. M. A. Bedaux and J. D. van der Waals, eds.) pp. 159-165. Leiden: Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkunde.

1990 - W. B. Fawcett and A. LaViolette. Iron Age Settlement around Mkiu, South-eastern Tanzania. Azania 25: 19-26.

1989 - Preliminary Report: Excavations and Survey at Pujini, A Fortress on Pemba Island, Tanzania. Nyame Akuma 32: 35-38.