National Lecture Program

AIA Lecturer: Krish Seetah

Affiliation: Stanford University

Krish Seetah is an environmental archaeologist, specializing in zooarchaeology. He is an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology, with an educational background in biology and health studies, and ecology. His research integrates archaeological, historical, anthropological, and climate science data and approaches. Since 2008 he has directed the Mauritian Archaeology and Heritage (MACH) project, which focuses on bringing the unique and rich archaeological past of Mauritius to a wide audience. MACH engages with a scientific approach to historical archaeology. The project centers on the movement of peoples and material cultures, specifically within the contexts of slavery and Diaspora and focuses on key sites on the island nation of Mauritius. Using a systematic program of excavation and environmental sampling, the underlying aims of the Mauritian Archaeology and Cultural Heritage project are to better understand the transition from slavery to indentured labor following abolition; the extent and diversity of trade in the region; and the environmental consequences of intense monoculture agriculture


Between 1855-59, the island of Mauritius, with a landmass of smaller than the state of Rhode Island, was producing about 10% of the world’s sugar.  The transformations that this intensification in cane production created had far reaching effects. In this talk, Seetah details a series of malaria epidemics that plagued the island from the 1850s onwards. He will discuss how archaeology is contributing to a clearer understanding of the historic context, and potentially, may be useful for contemporary studies of vector borne disease.

Enslaved peoples have little voice in this historical record and yet archaeology has immense power to help us better understand lives. This presentation provides insights, based on concrete science, on the palliative strategies of enslaved people from Mauritius, revealing details of how they dealt with the debilitating conditions of their working lives.

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