UCL African Studies Research Centre


Professor Kevin MacDonald

Programme Chair

Professor Kevin MacDonald

Research Interests

Historical Anthropology of West African Political Traditions, Issues of African Ethnicity and Identity, Slavery and Memory in Africa, The African Diaspora in Colonial North America, Style and African Pottery Making, Heritage Management, Deep Time African Pastoral Systems.

Main field areas

Mali, Mauritania, and Louisiana.

Current Research

Oral Traditions and Archaeology of the Segou Region (Mali), c. AD 1200-1850, in collaboration with the Malian Institut des Sciences Humaines.

Current Teaching

UCL Institutional Research Information System (IRIS) Profile

Prof Kevin Macdonald



  • Professor of African Archaeology
    Institute of Archaeology Gordon Square
    Institute of Archaeology

Joined UCL


Research Interests

    Historical Anthropology of African Political Traditions
    The African Diaspora
    Oral Traditions
    Pottery Analysis
    Lithics Analysis
    African Pastoralism and its Development
    Historical Archaeology in the New World

Co-Director of the Cane River African Diaspora Archaeological Project in collaboration with Dr David Morgan of the US National Park Service.

Co-Director of Projet Waalo: historical and archaeological research on the settlement geography of Waalo with Dr Ibrahima Thiaw of IFAN, Dakar. The period covered ranges from AD 1000 to the 1850s.

Award year Qualification Institution
1994 PhD
Doctor of Philosophy
University of Cambridge
1989 BA
Bachelor of Arts
Rice University, Houston

Kevin C. MacDonald is Professor of African Archaeology at the  Institute of Archaeology where he has taught since completing his PhD at Cambridge in 1994. He has worked in Mali for more than thirty years on field projects ranging from the Historic Era to the Late Stone Age, principally in the Gourma, Méma, Haute Vallée and Segou regions. Since 2000, he has also worked on the archaeology and history of the African Diaspora in Louisiana and on the survey and excavation of Tichitt Tradition sites in the Dhar Nema region of Mauritania. Currently his research in West Africa focuses on the settlement landscapes and oral traditions of Waalo in Senegal. MacDonald's analytical specialities include the historical anthropology of political traditions, ceramics analysis, archaeozoology, and the study of earthen structures. He has over 90 research publications, with five books including Ethnic Ambiguity and the African Past: Materiality, History and the Shaping of Cultural Identities (co-edited with François Richard, 2015),  Slavery in Africa: Archaeology and Memory (co-edited with Paul Lane, 2011) and African Re-Genesis: Confronting Social Issues in the Diaspora (co-edited with Jay Haviser, 2006). He is co-editor of the Routledge journal Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa.