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Associate Professor of Archaeology and Anthropology - The Africa Institute

Associate Professor of Archaeology and Anthropology

Rachel Ama Asaa Engmann is a critical heritage scholar, practitioner, and direct descendant of slave traders. She has a BA, two MA’s, and a Ph.D. from Columbia and Stanford Universities respectively. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Brown University. She also has a certificate from Stanford University Business School’s Innovation and Social Enterprise Program, using archaeology and heritage for African education and development.

Engmann is currently working on two projects: The first project, Hidden Palimpsests: Unraveling Nineteenth Century Islamic Talismans in Asante chronicles the relationship between objects, texts, religion, and empire.

The second project, Slavers in the Family: The Archaeology of the Slaver in Eighteenth-Century Gold Coast, is a study of Christiansborg Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, former seventeenth-century European trading post, Danish and British colonial seat of government administration, and Office of the President of the Republic of Ghana (in English, Ga and Twi) & (in English, Ga and Danish).

Engmann has received multiple interdisciplinary fellowships, grants, and prizes from the United States, European and African countries, including governmental, international foundations, and research institutes. She currently serves on the African scholars’ advisory board for UNESCO’s African World Heritage Sites, Brepol’s Studies in the Archaeology of the Islamic World, and 100 Histories of 100 Worlds. She has also worked on many heritage and development projects in Ghana and other African countries, including for UNESCO (Paris & Accra).


Material culture, West African Islam, transatlantic slave trade and slavery, colonialism, critical heritage studies, and archaeological ethnography.


  • “‘The Fake’: Tales from the Field”. Journal of Contemporary Archaeology 9 (2):248-59 (2023).
  • “Excavating Knowledge: Transformative Critical Heritage Pedagogies and Participatory Democracy at Christiansborg Castle’ with Dorothy Engmann, co-author Heritage and Democracy: Crisis, Critique, and Collaboration edited by Kathryn Lafrenz Samuels and Jon Daehnke. University Press of Florida (2023).
  • "Contested heritage and absent objects: Archaeological representation at Ghana’s forts and castles." (2022).
  • "Coups, castles, and cultural heritage: conversations with Flight Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings, former President of Ghana." Journal of Heritage Tourism 16, no. 6 (2021): 722-737.
  •  "Autoarchaeology at Christiansborg Castle (Ghana): decolonizing knowledge, pedagogy, and practice." Journal of Community Archaeology & Heritage 6, no. 3 (2019): 204-219.
  • Engmann, Rachel AA. "Unearthing Mixed Raceness at Christiansborg Castle." Journal of the Society for Architectural Historians 80, no. 4 (2021): 385-388.
  • "Archaeo, That Useless Subject": Excavating the Past through Autoarchaeology and Community Outreach Education." Ghana Studies 22, no. 1 (2019): 173-190.
  •  "Mysticism, enchantment and charisma reincarnated: Nineteenth-century Islamic talismans, vernacularization and heritage values in contemporary Asante." Material Religion 15, no. 2 (2019): 221-239.

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