Liza Gijanto

Associate Professor of Anthropology

Liza Gijanto


Dr. Gijanto’s research focuses on socio-economic interaction and expressions of status in the Atlantic world. Her primary study area is the Gambia and recently began work at Cremona Estate in St. Mary’s county leading student directed research on the 17th and 18th century plantation site. She runs the archaeology track of the Gambia Field Studies Program and overseas the Cremona Fellows Program.

Areas of Research Specialization

  • African Atlantic Archaeology
  • Ceramics
  • Heritage and Tourism

Areas of Teaching Specialization

  • Archaeology
  • Atlantic World
  • Status and Identity


  • B.A. in Anthropology at Rutgers University, 2000
  • M.A. in Archaeology at University College of London Institute of Archaeology, 2002
  • Ph.D. in Anthropology at Syracuse University, 2010


  • Ceramic Production and Dietary Changes at Juffure Gambia (with Sarah Walshaw)
    This paper explores the connection between ceramic production and dietary changes immediately before, during, and through the decline of the Atlantic trade at Juffure on the Gambia River. The height of the Atlantic trade in the eighteenth century was a period of increased ceramic production and technical experimentation. Simultaneously, there is increase in the diversity of consumption evident in the faunal and botanical remains recovered. This diversity, in both ceramic manufacture and diet, all but disappears with the decline of the Atlantic trade on the river. It is argued that the greater variety observed in ceramic manufacture during the height of the Atlantic trade is related to social practices of display associated with food. This is accomplished through a comparison of everyday and special events composed of displays of food and wealth across ethnic boundaries. These are indicative of different traditions of consumption and discard rather than signaling ethnic differentiation.
  • Historic Preservation and Development in Banjul, The Gambia
    The city of Banjul and Gambia colony were established as part of the British abolition efforts on the West African coast in 1816. Unfortunately, the role of Banjul and Gambia in ending the trans-Atlantic slave trade is overshadowed by the current emphasis within the heritage tourism sector on the local dynamics of the slave trade. This, coupled with the continual expansion of port facilities within the capital city of Banjul, has led to the rapid disappearance of much of the nation’s colonial past. This article addresses the challenges and possibilities for cultural resource management as an aid to development and interpretation in Banjul and The Gambia.
  • Personal Adornment and Expressions of Status: Beads and the Gambia River’s Atlantic Trade
    The presence of glass trade beads at Atlantic trade period sites is often thought to provide limited information for the analyst. Several archaeologists working in West Africa have addressed the difficulty of using beads as chronological markers, let alone using these objects to discern local patterns of demand, preference, or consumption. Overall, few scholars have moved beyond the development of descriptive catalogues to determine what information can be ascertained from bead collections other than chronological data. At Juffure on the Gambia River, bead attributes such as shape, color, and size inform the analyst of how change in the demand for and availability of beads were tied to changing local notions of taste and value.