Shanti Morell-Hart
Assistant Professor, Anthropology

My research centers on gastronomic heritage, the origins and impacts of agriculture in the development of societies, contributions of plants to ritualized activity, the range and diversity of botanical practices, and transformations in human-environment dynamics. I am firmly committed to multidisciplinary approaches to human problems, both past and present, and the dynamic role of ethnobotanical and spatial research in this endeavor. Methodologically, I employ paleoethnobotany, archival research, and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) modeling. I also incorporate linguistic approaches to practice and foodways, charting the dynamic language of ethnobotanical activity in production, reproduction, and transformation. I particularly focus on narratives of "collapse" and resilience as related to human negotiations of ecological variability.

Currently, I am engaged in research in Mexico (Oaxaca and Quintana Roo), Honduras, and Guatemala (2016 & 2017). I am also working on a book that investigates the role of archaeogastronomy in narratives of food security, malnourishment, and resilience. I explore the ways that gastronomic heritage is established through ties to ancient foodways and contextualized through modern conceptions of health and sustainability.

Methodologically, my work employs a multi-pronged approach to human-plant practice. I extract residues from diverse loci including ceramic vessels, stone implements, and sediments, to analyze macrobotanical and microbotanical remains including seeds, phytoliths, and starch grains. I compare these results with historic and ethnographic narratives, and model geographic patterns. The use of GIS has allowed me to explore the spatial dimension of ethnobotanical practice, in the way that the use of paleoethnobotany has allowed me to explore the botanical dimension of placemaking.

With Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) funding, I am now amplifying the infrastructure and resources of McMaster Paleoethnobotany Research Facility (MPERF) for research and training purposes. These facilities are available for extractions, identifications, and analyses of botanical residues from Mesoamerica and Ontario.

My teaching and supervisory interests include: foodways, ethnoecology, paleoethnobotanical analysis, spatial analysis, Mesoamerica, ancient history, and gastronomic heritage.
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