UCL African Studies Research Centre


Dr Matthew Davies

Lecturer in African Studies

Research Interests

Dr Matthew Davies

Long-term Human-Environment Resilience in Eastern Africa, Historical Ecology, Agricultural and Pastoral systems, Climate/Ecology and Development, Heritage and Indigenous Knowledge, Citizen Science, GIS and Theories of Landscape, Historical Archaeology, Contemporary Agricultural landscape management, Interdisciplinary approaches. 

Main field areas

Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan

Matthew holds a doctorate from the University of Oxford. He was formerly a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at Cambridge University and Assistant Director of the British Institute in Eastern Africa, Nairobi, Kenya. More information can be found via Matthew's IRIS researcher profile below. 

Current Research Projects

  • Landscape, heritage, farming and community engagement in Marakwet, Kenya (Joint PI) (Visit Marakwet Heritage website)
  • Multidisciplinary approaches to African Farming (CoI) (Visit the Pan-African Farming Research Network website) (British Academy International Partnerships Grant)
  • Unravelling complexity: Understanding the land-water-food nexus in Elgeyo-Marakwet Kenya (CoI) (ESRC Nexus Network Grant)
  • Revisiting the Bantu migration Narrative (CoI with Dr Freda M'Mbogori) (Wenner-Gren Grant)

Current Teaching

UCL Institutional Research Information System (IRIS) Profile

Dr Matthew Davies


Institute of Advanced Studies
South Cloisters, Wilkins Building, Gower Street London


  • Lecturer
    UCL Institute for Global Prosperity
    Faculty of the Built Environment

Joined UCL


I am a Historical Ecologist trained in anthropology and archaeology. I work on a range of topics in eastern Africa with specific focus on the sustainability and resilience of agricultural and pastoral landscapes and communities in Kenya, Uganda and South Sudan. The primary focus of my field research is the development of applied understandings of African farming practices, communities and landscapes over the last five hundred years but I also research and write on a range of other topics in archaeology and anthropology with focus on Africa, landscapes, heritage and public archaeology. My work is inherently interdisciplinary and involves the integration of anthropological, historical, ecological, climatic, spatial and archaeological data to address contemporary challenges of landscape and ecological management. I am also particularly interested in developing stronger models for community engagement and community led interdisciplinary research in Africa, drawing on models from Citizen Science and making use of mobile and internet technologies. I currently co-direct the Marakwet Heritage Project with anthropologist Professor Henrietta Moore and coordinate the British Academy funded African Farming Research Network. Through the Marakwet Heritage Project my work is diversifying into aspects of biodiversity and health wile the African Farming Network has presented some exciting engagements in South Africa and Nigeria. Further details can be found via my personal website: www.md564.wordpress.com and via my project websites:



My research has been funded by UK Arts and Humanities Research Council masters and doctoral studentships, the Tweedie Exploration Fund, the British Institute in Eastern Africa, the McDonald Institute, the Leverhulme Trust, the Newton Trust and the British Academy. 

Award year Qualification Institution
2017 FHEA
ATQ03 - Recognised by the HEA as a Fellow
Academic studies in Higher Education
University College London

I completed my doctorate on the applied archaeology and anthropology of farming systems in northwest Kenya in Oxford in 2009 and then took up the post of Assistant Director of the British Institute in Eastern Africa (BIEA) based in Nairobi, Kenya. From 2010 to 2013 I held a joint fellowship in East African Archaeology with the BIEA and based at the McDonald Institute, University of Cambridge. From 2014-2015 I was Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the McDonald Institute. 

I sit on the Governing Council and Research Committee of the British Institute in Eastern Africa, am  a senior editor for the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of African History and have recently joined the editorial board of the Cambridge Archaeological Journal. I also sit on the governing council of the African Studies Association of the UK (ASAUK) and the African Archaeological Conservation Advisory Committee of the PanAfrican Archaeological Association. I was previously a Bye-Fellow of Pembroke College Cambridge. 

Outside of academia I have a wonderful wife and son and I love running, cycling and trekking!