Department of Anthropology

Alexandra C. Kelly
Associate Professor

Research Interests: American West, East Africa, Historical Anthropology/Archaeology, Capitalism, Globalization, Exchange/Circulation, Consumption, Material Culture, Heritage

I am a historical anthropologist/archaeologist interested in 19th-century capitalist expansion, imperialism/settler colonialism, exchange, material culture, museum studies, and cultural heritage. My first book project explored the history of the ivory trade between East Africa and New England as an important site of colonial and neoliberal social production. I used the object biographies of a collection of ivory artifacts from two ivory-cutting factories in Connecticut to illuminate forgotten histories of global connection and problematize contemporary heritage discourse concerning elephants and ivory in East Africa.

My current research focuses on historical archaeology and cultural heritage in the American West, and I am co-director of the Carbon City Archaeology Project with my Anthropology colleague, Jason Toohey. We are currently surveying and excavating Carbon City, the first coal mining town established along the UPRR in Wyoming in 1868. I am also involved in several archaeological, archival, heritage, and community engagement projects across Wyoming.

I hold a dual appointment between the History and Anthropology Departments. I am the director of the UW Anthropology Museum and involved with the Museum Studies minor on campus.

I am currently accepting graduate students in both the History (M.A.) and Anthropology (M.A. and Ph.D.) programs and am especially interested in working with students on historical archaeology, material culture, museum studies, culture contact, settler colonialism, and capitalist expansion in the American West.


Courses Taught:

HIST/ANTH 2600: Forgotten Africa: Introduction to African Civilizations


HIST 4030: Senior Capstone Seminar (historiography-focused)

ANTH 4010: History of Anthropological Thought

HIST 5800: History Theory

and topics seminars on Colonial Africa and Cultural Heritage Studies

Consuming Ivory

Consuming Ivory: Mercantile Legacies of East Africa and New England

(University of Washington Press, 2021)

A Kelly


Contact Us

Anthropology Department

12th and Lewis Streets

Laramie, WY 82071

Phone: (307) 766-5136


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