Dela Kuma

  • Assistant Professor

Dela Kuma is an anthropological archaeologist who specializes in the archaeology of global encounters in Atlantic-era West Africa. Her current research, the archaeology of ‘legitimate’ trade, examines broad transformations in local taste practices and everyday life during the 19th-century Afro-European trade in the hinterlands of southeastern Ghana. She specializes in the use of archaeometry and archaeobotanical tools to answer archaeological questions concerning foodways, trade, and global entanglements. Dela has also worked on archaeological projects in Nigeria, Portugal, Italy, Israel, and Russia.

Region of Study

West Africa, Ghana


Archaeology, daily life, foodways, global encounters, local taste

Degrees and Education

PhD, Northwestern University

Research Description

I am broadly interested in questions about how local communities negotiate broader-scale developments at the intimate levels of the household and communities. I am specifically interested in how local people leverage sociocultural practices such as local conceptualization of taste to navigate through global entanglements and make consumption choices, and how these decisions manifest materially in the archaeological records.

In the short term, I am analyzing archaeobotanical remains recovered from Amedeka to understand changes in the practices of food preparations and consumption at the turn of the 19th century when Amedeka became entangled in the ‘legitimate’ trade. Preliminary analyses show well-preserved macrobotanical remains that suggest increased processing of palm oil which could be connected to changes in ceramic forms and shapes.

Daily Life and Domestic Economies in Hinterland Regions of Ghana

This long-term community-based collaborative archaeological research examines how domestic economies of hinterland regions in Ghana responded to the commercial developments in the Atlantic world from the 16th to 20th centuries, a period that encompasses the socioeconomic integration of African economies into the Atlantic trade through to the transitions into the so-called legitimate economies and into formal colonial regimes. I will start this work by expanding excavations at Amedeka and including archaeological data from a broad regional catchment area in the southern region of Ghana. Methodologically, this work will expand the Neutron Activation Analysis database that we have of the southern region combined with other interdisciplinary approaches, to understand how local people negotiated changes in the production, consumption, and exchange patterns at the microlevel of households and community levels.