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Archaeology and Zoonosis: Integrating Archaeo-Historic, Climatic, and Genomic Data for Comparative Vector-Bourne Disease Modelling

Date and Time: 
Thursday, February 15, 2018. 05:00 PM - 06:30 PM
Meeting Location: 
Stanford Archaeology Center
Archaeology--Political Landscapes: Past and Present
Meeting Description: 

From AIDS to Zika, every single recent pandemic has been vector-borne (transmitted by animals). This presentation focuses on a project that intersects between archaeology, history, climate science and medicine, implementing a socio-ecological approach to study the vector-borne diseases (VBD). Case studies from three locations are presented: Kenya, Mauritius and Italy, covering Rift Valley Fever and malaria. By observing diseases like malaria as a highly integrated phenomenon, discerning the aggregate influence of environmental and socio-economic factors, the project seeks to provide a better assessment and understanding of the social, political and economic impacts arising from major outbreaks, how these correlate with the environment, and how to harness this ancient evidence to predict and help mitigate future epidemics.

Krish Seetah is an environmental archaeologist with a special focus on the period of European expansion and colonial archaeology. He brings a background in biology, health and ecology, with research emphasis on human-animal interactions, and colonization and colonialism. He is the director of the Mauritian Archaeology and Cultural Heritage (MACH) Project, which for the last decade has been gathering scientific data on disease and human impacts in the Indian Ocean, the transition from slavery to indentured labor following abolition, the extent and diversity of trade in the region, and the environmental consequences of intensive monocrop agriculture. His work on the intersection of archaeology and modern disease has twice been funded by the Center for Innovation in Global Health and Institute for Research in the Social Sciences (Stanford), as well as international grants from the British Council, British Academy, Australian National University, and Slovenian Research Agency. He is the faculty lead for the Stanford Malaria Working Group. Two forthcoming publications include an edited volume on the Indian Ocean, Connecting Continents: Archaeology and History in the Indian Ocean World (Ohio University Press), and a monograph on the complex nature of meat consumption and processing, From Flesh to Meat: The Craft of Slaughter in Archaeo-Historic Societies (Cambridge University Press).