Skip to main content

Amanda Logan

Associate Professor, AT&T Research Fellow

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.

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 first book, The Scarcity Slot: Excavating Histories of African Food Security, is under contract in the Food and Culture series at the University of California Press. I argue that African foodways have been viewed through the lens of ‘the scarcity slot,’ a kind of Othering based on presumed differences in resources. Using Banda as a case study, I illustrate how a longue durée approach can combat these stereotypes. Combining archaeological, historical, and environmental data with food ethnography, I forward a new approach to building long-term histories of food security on the continent in the hopes of contributing to this larger goal.

A broader umbrella project, “Environmental Archaeologies of Food Sovereignty in Africa,” will continue to challenge narratives of African food insecurity through analysis of environmental data from sites around the African continent. This comparative project focuses the social and agricultural strategies that Africans used to weather major geopolitical and environmental shifts of the last millennium, a timeframe that spans the trans-Saharan and Atlantic trades as well as colonial rule. Critical to these efforts is expanding the database of African plant use in the past through macrobotanical, phytolith, and starch grain analyses, the major focus of the NU Paleoethnobotany Laboratory. In particular, we seek to understand the introduction and spread of American crops like maize and cassava as well as the critical roles played by African crops.   

My research has been funded by the National Science Foundation and the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, and was recognized by the 2017 Gordon R. Willey Prize from the Archaeology Division of the American Anthropological Association and 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

325  Archaeology Lab Methods

390  Archaeology of Food and Drink

390  Anthropology of Food Security and Sustainability

490  Archaeologies, Communities, and Publics

490  Anthropology of Food



Logan, Amanda L. (under contract) The Scarcity Slot: Excavating Histories of African Food Security. University of California Press, Berkeley.

Edited Compilations

Logan, Amanda L.. guest editor (2019) Usable Pasts Forum: Critically Engaging Food Security. African Archaeological Review 36(3): 419-438.

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. (2019) Food Sovereignty in African Pasts Holds Lessons for African Futures. African Archaeological Review 36(3): 429-431.

Logan, Amanda L. (2019) Critically Engaging African Food Security and Useable Pasts through Archaeology. African Archaeological Review 36(3): 419-422.

Logan, Amanda L., and Ann B. Stahl (2017) Genealogies of Practice in and of the Environment in Banda, Ghana. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 24: 1356-1399.

Logan, Amanda L. (2017) Will Agricultural Technofixes Feed the World? Short- and Long-Term Tradeoffs of Adopting High-Yield 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