Skip to content
Chris DeCourse Headshot

Christopher DeCorse

Contact Information:


207 Maxwell Hall

Christopher DeCorse

Distinguished Professor and Chair, Anthropology Department

Senior Research Associate, Maxwell African Scholars Union


ANT 141: Introduction to Archaeology and World Prehistory
ANT 249: Archaeology at the Movies, the Scientific Study of the Past in Popular Culture
ANT 348: Mummies, Tombs and Treasure, the History of Archaeology
ANT 444/644: Laboratory Analysis in Archaeology
ANT 439/639: Climate Change and Human Origins
ANT 741: Archaeological Theory

Highest degree earned

Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles, 1989


I am an archaeologist interested in the cultural entanglements of the early modern world, material culture studies and general anthropology. I have excavated sites in the United States and the Caribbean, but my primary area of research has been in the archaeology, ethnohistory and ethnography of sub-Saharan Africa. I am particularly interested in how archaeology can help us understand the transformations that occurred in Africa during the period of the Atlantic trade. I am currently directing ongoing research projects in coastal Ghana and in Sierra Leone, including work at Elmina, the site of the first and largest European trade post established in sub-Saharan Africa, and at Bunce Island, the major center of European trade on the African coast between the Senegambia and coastal Ghana.

My principal publications on African archaeology include: "An Archaeology of Elmina: Africans and Europeans on the Gold Coast, 1400-1900" (Smithsonian Press, 2001, now available from "West Africa during the Atlantic Slave Trade" (an edited volume republished by Bloomsbury Academic, 2016). My book "Small Worlds: Method, Meaning, and Narrative Craft in Microhistory" (School of Advanced Research Press, 2008), co-edited with John Walton and James Brooks, brings together the work of twelve scholars from diverse disciplines to explore theoretical vantage and method in the interpretation of the past through the lens of microhistory.

My textbooks include "Anthropology: A Global Perspective" (with Raymond Scupin, Pearson, 8th Edition 2016); "Anthropology: The Basics" (with Raymond Scupin, Pearson, 1st Edition 2016); "In the Beginning: An Introduction to Archaeology" (with Brian Fagan, Prentice Hall, 12th Edition 2005,) and; "The Record of the Past: An Introduction to Archaeology and Physical Anthropology" (Prentice Hall, 2000). My publications are listed in my resume, and many can be downloaded via my Academia webpage.

Areas of Expertise

General anthropology, African archaeology and history, African diaspora studies, culture contact, colonialism and change, archaeology and popular culture

Research Grant Awards and Projects


2014 - Society of Antiquaries of London, elected fellow

2013 - Excellence in Graduate Education Faculty Recognition Award, Graduate School, Syracuse University

2006 - William Wassertrom Prize for Graduate Teachingin recognition of exceptional record of graduate teaching, advising, and mentoring, College of Arts and Sciences, Syracuse University

1997 - Daniel Patrick Moynihan Award for outstanding teaching, research, and service by an untenured faculty member, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University


Books and Monographs

Christopher R. DeCorse 
In press   Power, Political Economy, and Historical Landscapes of the Modern World: Interdisciplinary Perspectives, Fernand Braudel Center Studies in Historical Social Science, SUNY Press. 

Christopher R. DeCorse and Zachary J. M. Beier (eds.)
2018  British Forts and Their Communities: Archaeological and Historical Perspectives, University Press of Florida.  

Christopher R. DeCorse (ed.)
2016  West Africa during the Atlantic Slave Trade: Archaeological Perspectives. New York: Bloomsbury Academic. Reprint edition with new preface.

Raymond Scupin and Christopher R. DeCorse 
2016  Anthropology: A Global Perspective (8th Edition).  New York: Pearson (1st Edition 1992; 2nd Edition 1995; 3rd Edition 1997; 4th Edition 2001; 5th Edition 2004; 6th Edition 2008; 7th Edition 2012).

Christopher R. DeCorse and Raymond Scupin 
2016  Anthropology: The Basics.  New York: Pearson.

Christopher R. DeCorse 
2014  Postcolonial or Not? West Africa in the Pre-Atlantic and Atlantic Worlds. Keynote Address, 50th Anniversary of the African Studies Center, University of Ibadan. Ibadan, Nigeria: African Studies Center.

James Brooks, Christopher R. DeCorse, and John Walton (eds.)
2008  Small Worlds: Method and Meaning in Microhistory. School of American Research Press: Santa Fe.

Brian Fagan and Christopher R. DeCorse 
2005  In the Beginning (12th Edition). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

Christopher R. DeCorse
2001  An Archaeology of Elmina: Africans and Europeans on the Gold Coast, 1400-1900.  Washington, D. C.: Smithsonian Press.

Christopher R. DeCorse
2000  The Record of the Past: An Introduction to Archaeology and Physical Anthropology.  Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

Articles and Book Chapters

Christopher R. DeCorse 
2016  Tools of Empire: Trade, Resources and the British Forts of West Africa. In: Building the British Atlantic World, 1600-1850 Bernard L. Herman and Daniel Maudlin (eds). Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, pages 165-187.

Christopher R. DeCorse 
2015  Sierra Leone in the Atlantic World: Concepts, Contours, and Exchange.
Atlantic Studies, 12(3): 296-316.

Christopher R. DeCorse 
2014  Historical Archaeology: Methods, Meanings and Ambiguities. In Current Perspectives in the Archaeology of Ghana. J. Anquandah, B. Kankpeyeng and W. Apoh (eds.) Accra:  Sub-Saharan Publishers.

Christopher R. DeCorse
2012  Fortified Towns of the Koinadugu Plateau: Northern Sierra Leone in the Atlantic World. In: Landscapes of Power: Regional Perspectives on West African Polities in the Atlantic Era, Cameron Monroe and Akin Ogundiran (eds).  New York: Cambridge University Press, pages 278-308.

Christopher R. DeCorse 
2010  Early Trade Posts and Forts of West Africa.  In: First Forts: Essays on the Archaeology of Proto-colonial Fortifications, Eric Klingelhofer (ed). Leiden: Brill, pages 209- 233.

Gerard Chouin and Christopher R. DeCorse
2010  Prelude to the Atlantic Trade: New Perspectives on Southern Ghana’s pre-Atlantic History (800-1500). Journal of African History, 51:123-45.

Christopher R. DeCorse and Sam Spiers 
2009  A Tale of Two Polities: Socio-Political Transformation  on the Gold Coast in the Atlantic World.  Australian Journal of Historical Archaeology, 27:29-42. 

Christopher R. DeCorse 
2005  Coastal Ghana in the First and Second Millennia AD: Change in Settlement Patterns, Subsistence and Technology. Journal des Africanistes, 75(2):43-52.

Benjamin W. Kankpeyeng and Christopher R. DeCorse 
2004  Ghana’s Vanishing Past: Development, Antiquities and the Destruction of the Archaeological Record, African Archaeological Review, 21(2):89-128.

Christopher R. DeCorse and Gerard Chouin
2003  Trouble with Siblings: Archaeological and Historical Interpretation of the West African Past.  In Sources and Methods in African History: Spoken, Written, Unearthed, Toyin Falola and Christian Jennings (eds.), Rochester: University of Rochester Press, pages 7-15.

Mark Hauser and Christopher R. DeCorse
2003  Low-Fired Earthenwares in the African Diaspora: Problems and Prospects.  International Journal of Historical Archaeology, 7(1):67-98.

Christopher R. DeCorse, Francois G. Richard, and Ibrahima Thiaw
2003  Toward a Systematic Bead Description System: A View from the Lower Falemme, Senegal.  Journal of African Archaeology, 1(1):77- 109.

Christopher R. DeCorse 
1999  Oceans Apart: Africanist Perspectives on Diaspora Archaeology.  In: “I, Too, Am America”: Archaeological Studies of African-American Life, Theresa Singleton (ed). Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press, pages 132-155.

Christopher R. DeCorse 
1998  Culture Contact and Change in West Africa.  In: Studies in Culture Contact, James Cusick (ed).  Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University, pages 358-377.

Christopher R. DeCorse 
1998  The Europeans in West Africa: Culture Contact, Continuity and Change. In: Transformations in Africa, Graham Connah (ed).  London: Cassells, pages 219-244.

Christopher R. DeCorse
1996  Documents, Oral Histories, and the Material Record: Historical Archaeology in West Africa.  World Archaeological Bulletin, 7:40-50.

Christopher R. DeCorse
1993  The Danes on the Gold Coast: Culture Change and the European Presence.  The African Archaeological Review, 11:149-173.

Christopher R. DeCorse 
1992  Culture Contact, Continuity and Change on the Gold Coast, 1400-1900
A.D.  The African Archaeological Review, 10:163-196.

Christopher R. DeCorse 
1989  Material Aspects of Limba, Yalunka and Kuranko Ethnicity: Archaeological Research in Northeastern Sierra Leone.  In: Archaeological Approaches to Cultural Identity, S. J. Shennan (ed). London: Unwin Hyman, pages 125-139.

1989  C. R.  DeCorse.  Beads as Chronological Indicators in West African Archaeology: A Reexamination.  Beads: Journal of the Society of Bead Researchers, 1:41-53.

1986  M. Posnansky and C. R. DeCorse.  Historical Archaeology in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Review.  Historical Archaeology, 20(1):1-14.

1984  C. R. DeCorse.  Elixirs, Nerve Tonics and Panaceas: The Medicine Trade in Nineteenth Century New Hampshire.  Historical New Hampshire, 39(1):1-23.