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Cambridge AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership - Student Profiles



I graduated with a BA in Archaeology and Anthropology from Peterhouse, Cambridge in 2014, and then went on to an MA in The Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas at the University of East Anglia. Following that I spent a year outside university, most notably working for five months in Nairobi at the British Institute in Eastern Africa. I began working up my PhD proposal during this time, and helpfully was able to make several visits to my field site whilst I was based in Kenya. 

My PhD project is essentially an attempt to look at landscape development in a way which helps unite both the more overtly scientific and social theory-oriented sides of archaeology. As such, I will be trying to get an idea of how settlement has changed over the course of the occupation history of the village of Tot-Sibou, which lies on the slope of the Elgeyo Escarpment in northwest Kenya. This will involve data collection in the form of both contemporary household surveys and interviews with residents, and geo-archaeological excavation and sampling of soil profiles on the sites of abandoned homesteads, the oldest of which probably date to around three hundred years ago. Through all this I hope to assess both how the physical composition and layout of the village has changed over the last few centuries, and how the organisation of domestic space at a household level has (or hasn't) undergone concurrent transformations. 

All of this feeds into the wider research of the Marakwet Heritage Project, now based at the Institute for Global Prosperity at UCL, of which I am a member. As a whole project we are interested in building up an 'historical ecology' view of the Marakwet area. This entails research on farming techniques and land tenure, floral biodiversity, governmental infrastructure interventions, medical surveys, and much else besides; the aim being to gain an increasingly cohesive understanding of how landscapes operate as complex systems of relations between human and non-human phenomena.


Other Academic Interests

I am interested in pretty much all aspects of archaeology and anthropology, but in particular the ways both past and present in which people relate to material objects and landscapes. Outside of my own discipline I'm also interested in metaphysics and ethics, art, architecture, museum studies, cartography, typography, geology and vegetables.

Department: Archaeology
Supervisor: Prof Charles French
College: King's
AHRC Subject Area: Archaeology/Anthropology
Title of Thesis: The Changing Rhythms of Settlement and Domestic Space in Marakwet, Northwest Kenya
 David  Kay