With the support of National Science Foundation (NSF) Dr. E. Kofi Agorsah will undertake an archaeological investigation of the cultural formation and transformation of the historic Kormantse settlement on the Gold Coast, to examine its cultural responses to colonization. Although popular among scholars as the place of origin and pride of many Diaspora societies, little is known about Kormantse, its material culture, population's cultural identities and contributions in the colonial encounter, making it an "imaginary" reference population and settlement for African Diaspora societies. The project will pioneer scientific explanation for the connections using ethnographic and archaeological evidence; reconstruct the processes and manifestations by which the settlement's 16th to 20th century local and New World trans-Atlantic trade populations, negotiated their survival and identities; examine the role and impact of the numerous African populations in the formation of New World African cultures; identify material traces that would reflect the internal and external trade contacts, exchanges, migration routes and patterns of market traffic. Evidence of changing burial and social practices as indices of the community's shifting identity will determine the local community's adjustment to changing conditions and colonial impact. Artifact differentiation, sources of goods, trade routes, makers' marks and scientific dates, will help reconstruct the process of emerging and continuing social distinctions, establish the nature and process of cultural developments reflective of the formation and transformation of individual and interactive African and African Diaspora identities and populations.

Evidence from Kormantse, as a focal point and outlet for the population movements between the West African interior and coastal areas and the Americas, will help reconstruct the nature of colonial cultural exchanges. Introduction of forensic and bio-anthropological techniques into the area's archaeology for the first time, will provide pertinent information about the age, sex, and pathology and help create demographic and biological profiles, generate inferences concerning ecological adaptation, activity patterns, dietary influences and overall health. Bio-archaeological evidence and scientific analysis of soil, fauna, flora and other material will increase the data pool of participating American and local institutions, increase comparative capacity, open-up further collaborative opportunities and expand the range of inter-disciplinary academic contributions.

More broadly, the research will convert the Kormantse site from an "imaginary" historic to a de facto site with material culture depicting its role in the colonial encounter, educate and expand knowledge of its real worth and restore it to its well-deserved historical and cultural relevance for the Americas. Sharing the Kormantse data with the Du Bois Database and the African Burial Ground of New York, among others, will create new and refreshing perspectives on cultural identities linking Africa and the African Diaspora. The research constitutes a contribution to international student collaborative capacity-building, exchanges and field research training opportunities and strengthen developing educational partnerships with local Museums and cultural institutions; solidify public outreach; open up new tourist activities and provide material for local efforts toward a permanent field laboratory and site Museum for student courses, internships, exchanges scientific educational experience, while stimulating local and international interest, curiosity and support.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences (BCS)
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John E. Yellen
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Portland State University
United States
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