Ian Kuijt

Full Professor


B.A., University of Lethbridge, 1984
M.A., Simon Fraser University, 1988
A.M., Harvard University, 1991
Ph.D., ibid., 1995

I am broadly interested in two major themes: 1) the social geography of village life within small-scale prehistoric and historic period communities, and 2) the material means by which identity and social relations are manifest through human practices.  Drawing upon ethnography, social theory and archaeology, my archaeological scholarship is focused primarily on emerging social inequality, identity, and the construction of community through ritual and economic means.  Much of this research has focused on the Forager-Farmer Transition in the Neolithic of the Near East, as well as prehistoric Plateau of British Columbia, Canada.  Most recently this has focused on mapping and excavating eight stone residential buildings from the 1780’s to the 1920’s, on the abandoned island of Inishark and Inishbofin, Co. Galway, Ireland.  I am the author or co-editor of seven books, including Transformation by Fire: The Archaeology of Cremation in Cultural Context  (2014), People of the Middle Fraser Canyon: An Archaeological History (2012), Macroevolution in Human Prehistory (2009), and Life in Neolithic Farming Communities: Social Organization, Identity, and Differentiation (2000).  I have written over one hundred scholarly articles, including publications in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Current Anthropology, American Antiquity, The Journal of Economic Anthropology, and The Journal of Archaeological Science.  I currently serve on a number of editorial boards, including Antiquity and Paléorient.

While trained as a prehistoric archaeologist, I have spent a lot of time over the last 10 years exploring the interface between visual film narratives and personal histories of place and the human stories framed as micro-histories.  This has includes working with Wiliam Donaruma (Notre Dame, Department of Film Television and Theater) in the design, filming and production of the 14 min film Nets of Memory (Líonta na Cuimhne) (https://vimeo.com/160800097). Our recent co-authored book, Island Places, Island Times (2015), employs photographic recognition software to play 23 linked two min films (Follow these links for examples; Homes of Memory – Inishark https://vimeo.com/122464513, Michael Burke– Inishbofin https://vimeo.com/145333313, Cromwell's Barracks – Inishbofin https://vimeo.com/134154449).  Exploring visual histories we have also co-taught an upper level Notre Dame class, where we have helped students develop and produce a series of seven minute films focused on oral history, disappearing rural life, and the documentation of barns around South Bend, Indiana.

I am currently assisting the following Ph.D. students with their research at the University of Notre Dame; N. Ames (started 2015), D. Enverova (2015), K. Reese (2016), S. Field (2017).

Professor Kuijt will be on leave for Academic Year 2019-20 (June 1, 2019-May 31, 2020). 

Research supervision:
I am happy to supervise PhD thesis on a wide range of topics, including archaeological theory, material culture, the Near Eastern Neolithic, Historic Archaeology of Ireland, the economics of food storage, mortuary practices and the archaeology and ethnography of small-scale villages.  As part of a group of University of Notre Dame faculty with similar interests, I help foster an intellectual community of graduate and undergraduate students with similar research interests.  Over the years at the University of Notre Dame this has included post-doctoral researchers Drs. E. Guerrero Vila (2007-09), J. Salazar (2013-14,) M. McLeester (2018-19), and R. Lash (2019-20), current University of Notre Dame Ph.D. students N. Ames, D. Enverova, S. Field, H. Erftenbeck, and previously with Ph.D. students A. Bursali, and S. Morrow.  Past members of this research group also include University of Notre Dame Undergraduates who have subsequently gone on to undertake their Ph.D. at other Universities, including R. Lash (Northwestern Univ., 2019), M. Conway (Univ. of Southern Carolina, 2019), C. Quinn (Univ. of Michigan, 2016), S. Bergin (University of Arizona, 2018).

The emerging village and household  
I am interested in advancing research and helping students learn more about the social geography of space and landscape, both from a conceptual standpoint, the organization of the household, neighborhood and village, and how to root these comparative perspectives in case studies.  This potentially includes work on the Near Eastern Neolithic, small-scale village demography, social and economic networks within historic Irish villages, ethnoarchaeology.  

Mortuary practices and death
On a general level, I am interested in advancing conversations about the linkages between death, community and identity.  This potentially includes studies of how people in the past and present organize mortuary practices, how these actions reflect on the historical biography and life-history of individuals, and how these potentially illustrate and highlight kin relations.   I am particularly interested in topics related to burial ritual and skeletal studies and taphonomy.

Prehistoric economies, food storage, and technology
I am also interested in advancing research and conversations focused on prehistoric economies, food storage, and technology.  This potentially includes experimental studies related to food storage, the seasonal organization of storage to overcome seasonal and annual shortages, modeling how these practices fits within a yearly round, and reflecting on the evolutionary implications of daily storage practices.  I am also interested in work that advances our understanding of how changes in lithic technology, and more specifically energetics, brought about shifts in food processing, hunting, and gathering.
Abandonment of the rural and documentary film making
Finally, over the last five years I have been co-developing a research film project looking at the local and global study of 19th to 20th century movement of people from rural to urban settings.  This has involved University of Notre Dame Undergraduates and Ph.D. students developing short documentary films focused on rural Indiana farmsteads and barns.  To date this has included documenting oral history and architecture at 10 farmsteads. I am very interested in talking to potential students with similar interests.  

I am interested in learning more about your question-oriented research ideas, how these might be actualized as Ph.D. research projects, and how these help us understand the human world today and in the past.

Curriculum Vitae


204 Corbett Family Hall
(574) 631-3263