Kristina Douglass

Department of Archaeology

Main Focus

Human-environment interaction, anthropology and archaeology of Sub-Saharan Africa and the Indian Ocean, coastal and island archaeology, ethnohistory, ethnoarchaeology, historical ecology, extinction, migration, ethnogenesis

Curriculum Vitae

Kristina Douglass is the Sherwin Early Career Professor in the Rock Ethics Institute and Assistant Professor of Anthropology and African Studies at Penn State University, where she directs the Olo Be Taloha Laboratory ( She earned her PhD in Anthropology from Yale University and is an archaeologist, whose current work investigates human-environment interaction in Madagascar. She integrates archaeological, paleoecological, ethnohistorical, ethnographic and biological data to understand the dynamic relationship between communities and their environment over time. In particular, she focuses on culture change and continuity, subsistence strategies and mobility in contexts of resource scarcity, plant and animal extinctions and unpredictable climatic conditions. For the last seven years she has directed the Morombe Archaeological Project (MAP) in southwest Madagascar. The project combines regional survey and excavations with gathering oral histories in the Velondriake Marine Protected Area, a locally managed marine protected area, and the nearby Mikea National Park. Through collaborations with conservationists, biologists, geneticists and other anthropologists, the MAP has begun to reconstruct the historical ecology of Velondriake and Mikea, offering a long-term view of changing human-environment dynamics, migration, settlement and faunal extinctions. Douglass’ work aims to bridge divides between anthropology, conservation and development, while critically addressing the role of archaeological narratives of human environmental impact in conservation and policy discourse. Her work contributes to current debates over conservation, extinction and sustainability in one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots, with the view that archaeological data can help refine approaches to modern-day conservation issues and build more holistic understandings of human-environment dynamics.


Douglass, K and T. Rasolondrainy. 2021. “Social memory and niche construction in a hypervariable

environment”. e23557. American Journal of Human Biology.

Gaffney, D., G. Summerhayes, S. Luu, J. Menzies, K. Douglass, M. Spitzer and S. Bulmer. 2021.

Small game hunting in montane rainforests: specialized capture and broad spectrum foraging in

the Late Pleistocene to Holocene New Guinea Highlands. 253:106742. Quaternary Science Reviews.


Jones, J., A. Pisor, K. Douglass, R. Bliege Bird, E. Ready, A. Hazel, J. Hackman, K. Kramer, T.

Kohler, H. Pontzer, M. Towner. Preprint. “How can evolutionary and biological anthropologists

engage broader audiences?” American Journal of Human Biology. 10.31219/


Godfrey, L. and K. Douglass. In press. “New insights into the relationship between human

ecological pressures and the vertebrate extinctions”. In Goodman, S. M. (ed.), The New Natural

History of Madagascar. Princeton: Princeton University Press.


Douglass, K. 2020. “Amy ty lilin-draza’ay: Building archaeological practice on principles of

community”. Submitted to the COVID-19 Forum, African Archaeological Review. DOI:



Douglass, K. and J. Cooper. 2020. “Archaeology, environmental justice and climate change on

islands of the Caribbean and Southwestern Indian Ocean”. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.117(15): 8254-8262.


Davis, D., DiNapoli, R. and K. Douglass. 2020. “Integrating Point Process Models, evolutionary

ecology and traditional knowledge improves landscape archaeology – a case from southwest

Madagascar” Geosciences. 10(8): 287.


Davis, D. and K. Douglass. 2020. Aerial and Spaceborne Remote Sensing in African Archaeology: A

Review of Current Research and Potential Future Avenues. African Archaeological Review. 37(1): 9



Davis, D; V. Andriankaja, C. L. Tahirisoa, Z. M. Chrisostome, C. Colombe, F. Fenomanana, L.

Hubertine, R. Justome, F. Lahiniriko, H. Léonce, G. Manahira, B. V. Pierre, R. Razafimagnefa, P.

Soafiavy, V. Faralahy, V. Vavisoa, B. Manjakahery and K. Douglass. 2020. Satellite-based remote

sensing rapidly reveals extensive record of Holocene coastal settlement on Madagascar. Journal of Archaeological Science. 115(105097): 1-13.


Douglass, K., S. Hixon, H. T. Wright, L. R. Godfrey, B. E. Crowley, B. Manjakahery, T. V. R.

Rasolondrainy, Z. Crossland, and C. Radimilahy. 2019. "A critical review of radiocarbon dates

clarifies the human settlement of Madagascar." Quaternary Science Reviews 221 (105878):1-11.


Douglass, K., E. Quintana Morales, G. Manahira, F. Fenomanana, R. Samba, F. Lahiniriko, Z. M.

Chrisostome, V. Vavisoa, P. Soafiavy, R. Justome, H. Leonce, L. Hubertine, B.V. Pierre, C.

Tahirisoa, C. S. Colomb, F. S. Lovanirina, V. Andriankaja, and R. Robison. 2019. "Toward a just and

inclusive environmental archaeology of southwest Madagascar." Journal of Social Archaeology

19(3), 307-332. doi: 10.1177/1469605319862072.

Research projects

Madagascar megafauna extinctions project

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