National Lecture Program

AIA Lecturer: Sharyn Jones

Affiliation: Northern Kentucky University

Sharyn Jones is Professor of Anthropology with the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Philosophy at Northern Kentucky University.  She holds her degrees from the University of Florida (Ph.D.) and the University of California at Berkeley, and her research interests include human-environmental interactions, tropical island chiefdoms, public archaeology and science education, foodways, zooarchaeology, ethnoarchaeology, Fiji and Polynesia, and India.  She has received numerous awards for her work, published widely, and her current publication project is An Archaeology of Food in Fiji and Oceania (Archaeology of Food Series. University of Alabama Press, forthcoming).


Using archaeological information and multiple lines of evidence I discuss long-term patterns in foodways and more broadly, the way that indigenous communities have interacted with the environment over the last 3000 years in the Fiji Islands. This research draws from over twenty years of work in Fiji and focuses on the entangled relationships between humans, plants, and animals in the past and present. A range of study sites across the island group provide archaeological information indicating that Fijian practices have enabled generally sustainable marine-based food systems that extend over the duration of their history: from early island occupation to the present. My work suggests that there is a great deal of continuity in the ways that people have made decisions about how they interacted with the marine world as well as what they fished for. Nevertheless, attempting to explain human behavior by relying only on explanations associated with the availability of resources and economics is a gross oversimplification. The range of accessible food options does of course relate to what is eaten. However, social constraints and possibilities, politics, history, meaning, symbols, taste, and the senses are also involved in decisions about what food ends up on the table and what individuals eat from day to day. As nearly two decades of research in Fiji and countless conversations with Fijian people have illustrated, these observations prove just as true in the past just as they do in the present.

Short bibliography and/or website on lecture topic:

Jones, S. 2009. Food and Gender in Fiji: Ethnoarchaeological Explorations. Lexington Books/ Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham and New York.

Jones, S. 2016. “Eating Identity: An Exploration of Fijian Foodways in the Archaeological Past,” Journal of Indo-Pacific Archaeology 37(2015):64-71.

Jones, S. 2009. A long-term perspective on biodiversity and marine resource exploitation in Fiji’s Lau Group. Pacific Science 63(4):617-648.

The Parker Academy, founded 1839 in southern Ohio was the first school in the country to house multiracial coeducational classrooms. In the midst of one of the country’s darkest moments, the Academy was a beacon of hope and resistance in a small town on the Ohio River that divided the North and South. This school was open to anyone that desired an education and it was also a station on the Underground Railroad according to several different accounts. The Parker Academy Project is an interdisciplinary collaboration among historians, geographers, and archaeologists. Our shared goal is to engage a diverse community of participants in research exploring race and social justice in American History through excavations, archival research, and outreach. The ongoing research program provides a window for understanding free black communities and a culture of freedom through education. In this lecture I discuss archaeological and archival findings that reveal a great deal about daily life at this historic school as well as the people who struggled to make the academy possible.

Short bibliography and/or website on lecture topic:

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