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Research Experts Search

In this search you can find faculty members in a particular area of research, or browse the wide variety of research happening at the U of M.

Our faculty members have maintained information about their research expertise and interests, current teaching areas and other activities. They manage their information from the My Research Tools (MRT) website. More information about MRT is available Visit Research tools here.

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Fowler, Kent D.

Professor, Anthropology


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Keyword Discipline


Geographical Regions


Behavioral/Social Sciences


Behavioral/Social Sciences

Ceramics (Visual Arts)


Cultural Identity

Behavioral/Social Sciences


Geographical Regions

Folk/Ethnic Arts


Material Culture

Behavioral/Social Sciences

Southern Africa

Geographical Regions

Research Description

My research interests are in the development of complex societies in Europe and Africa. I have explored this topic through the study of Neolithic mortuary practices and zooarchaeology in Europe, and Iron Age settlement organization and ceramic technology in Southern Africa. My current research focuses on the social networks influencing ceramic production in Southern Africa and how differences in production inform us about regional identity.

Teaching Description

I teach a range of courses in archaeology and physical anthropology including graduate courses in Mortuary Archaeology and Ethnoarchaeology and regional courses in the prehistory and civilizations of the New World and Africa.

Public/Media (Non-Technical) Description

My research interest is in the relationship between material culture and identity. I specialize in ceramic technology which I use as a means to better understand learning and knowledge transmission, social relationships, and social organization in both present and past societies in Southern Africa.

International Activities

Nguni Ceramics and Society Project

This program of research examines the relationships between pottery production and identity in Southern Africa. The association between style and group identity has been based upon the idea that the form of objects communicated something about the identity of the producers. However, while some cultural values and the material representation of these values are made highly visible in the objects we produce, others are so embedded that they go unnoticed in the less visible and more mundane aspects of material culture.

Ethnographic research in West Africa has demonstrated that the production of style, as opposed to the appearance of objects, also provides a sensitive indicator of social identities. This work has provided a model linking the process of artefact production with artisans’ social identity. However, it has not been widely investigated outside of Western Africa.

The main objective of the project is to determine what factors influence the decisions of potters during the production process and how differences in production reflect the identity of potters. To accomplish this objective we are focusing on the interaction spheres influencing the production dynamics of modern and historically recent Zulu potters of southeastern Africa, one branch of Nguni speaking peoples in Africa today. We hope to investigate the historical dynamics of Nguni socio-political group formation, migrations and proposed stylistic boundaries through a combination of field and laboratory research.

Partners KwaZulu-Natal Museum, University of KwaZulu-Natal
Funding Agencies SSHRC
Countries South Africa, Swaziland
Regions Southern Africa
Dates 2008 - 2012

Currently Recruiting Graduate Students

Potential graduate students should contact the appropriate Faculty.


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