Western and West-Central African Diversity

Koen Bostoen, Professor, Ghent University, BantUGent, Belgium

The First Bantu Speakers South of the Central-African Rainforest: New Insights from Historical Linguistics and Archaeology

Koen Bostoen is Professor of African Linguistics and Swahili at Ghent University and member of the UGent Centre for Bantu Studies. His research focuses on Bantu languages and interdisciplinary approaches to the African past. He obtained an ERC Starting Grant for the KongoKing project (2012–2016) and an ERC Consolidator’s Grant for the BantuFirst project (2018–2022). Apart from several research articles, he is the author of “Des mots et des pots en bantou: une approche linguistique de l’histoire de la céramique en Afrique” (2005, Peter Lang) and co-editor of “Studies in African Comparative Linguistics, with Special Focus on Bantu and Mande” (2005, RMCA), “The Kongo Kingdom: The Origins, Dynamics and Cosmopolitan Culture of an African Polity” (2018, Cambridge University Press), “Une archéologie des provinces septentrionales du royaume Kongo” (2018, Archaeopress) and “The Bantu Languages”, Second Edition (2019, Routledge). Website.

Bernard Clist, Researcher, Ghent University, BantUGent, Belgium

West-Central African diversity from the Stone Age to the Iron Age, continuities and transitions during the last 10,000 years

Bernard Clist is associated since 2012 to the UGent Centre for Bantu studies of Gent University’s Department of Languages and Cultures, and more recently to the Institut des Mondes Africains in France. He has been conducting archaeological research in and on Central Africa since 1980, and has carried out research projects in Angola, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Madagascar, and Zambia. He was in residence in Gabon between 1985 and 1996 when he was Head of the International Centre for Bantu Civilisations Archaeology Department (CICIBA). He did his PhD (2005) on the Neolithic to Iron Age periods of north-west Gabon, about the earliest villagers and their interaction with their environment. Between 2012 and 2018, he coordinated and conducted archaeological research on the Kongo kingdom with fieldwork in the DRC (2012-2015), and lab work in Angola, Belgium and Portugal, and editing the final project report published in 2018 at Archaeopress, Oxford. This led to furthering an interest into social processes leading through the Iron Age, to the complex societies of the region. Website.

Isabelle Ribot, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Montreal, Montreal, Canada

Shum Laka, a key site to explore ancient forager diversity in North-West Cameroon: new and ongoing research

Isabelle Ribot is a bioarchaeologist working at the Université de Montréal in Canada (Département d’Anthropologie) since 2006, where she teaches both theoretical and practical aspects of Human Osteology and Bioarchaeology. Her research interests focus not only on local bioarchaeological project in Quebec, but also various questions related to the African continent (e.g. past phenotypic diversity in sub-Saharan Africa, population history and adaptation). In 2002, she achieved her PhD in Cambridge (UK) focusing on craniometrical variation within sub-Saharan Africa. Between 2002 and 2005, she completed a postdoctoral research at the Department of Anatomy, University of Cape Town (South Africa), focusing on the analysis of various sites (e.g. Hofmeyr) and regions (e.g. KwaZulu-Natal). Previously, she excavated in various countries (e.g. Cameroon, Egypt, and South Africa). Currently, she is part of a research group in Canada (Archéologie sociale, As2) as well as initiating small projects to re-analyse West-Central African prehistoric sites.Website.

Hiba Babiker, Researcher, Max Planck Institute, Germany

Genetic landscape of populations from Central Eastern Mali reveals the mystery of a language isolate and its speakers

Hiba Babiker is a Post-doctoral Researcher at the Max-Planck Institute for the Science of Human History (Germany). She obtained her master’s degree from Uppsala University (Sweden), and later she was awarded the International Max-Planck research school fellowship for her PhD studies. She is interested in human genetic diversity and patterns of migration inside Africa. Her research couples fieldwork with the collection of genealogical data and biological samples. Her research is currently dedicated to revealing the genetic structure and history of populations across the Bandiagara Escarpment in Central Eastern Mali and populations across South-West Burkina Faso using genome-wide SNP data and uniparental markers. She is also interested in using recent advancement in ancient DNA technology to explore past populations’ settlements in the region before the Dogon expansion. She is working closely with linguists to generate paired linguistic-genetic data to understand modern-day linguistic and genetic diversity shaped by the demographic histories of the populations. Website.