Assistant Teaching Professor
Office: Palmer Building
Dr. Andrew Gurstelle (Ph.D., University of Michigan) is a museum anthropologist and archaeologist. Dr. Gurstelle is the Academic Director of Wake Forest University’s Museum of Anthropology. His interest in museums focuses on making them hubs of anthropological research—places where research is both conducted and exhibited. His curatorial work emphasizes putting objects in context, historically and culturally.
Dr. Gurstelle has conducted archaeological and oral-historical research in West Africa, including Ghana, Togo, and Bénin. He is the director of the Savè Hills Archaeological Research Project in Bénin. The project’s goal is to examine the early history and development of the Shabe Yoruba kingdom between 1600 and 1960 CE. Dr. Gurstelle and his colleagues map ancient village sites in relation to geographic features and sacred landforms to demonstrate the social and economic networks that cross-cut West Africa. A second area of research is understanding the practices and material cultures of the pre-Shabe population that has lived in the Savè hills area since at least 1000 CE.
Related to archaeology, Dr. Gurstelle maintains a research interest in the historical arts of West and Central Africa—the sculptures, masks, musical instruments, metal castings, and beadwork exported from Africa in the 19th and 20th centuries. He has conducted research on blue glass trade beads, Yoruba pottery, Kongo power figures, and royal Kuba art.
Research and Scholarly Activities
2015 Settlement History and Chronology in the Savè Area of Central Bénin. Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa 50: 227-249. (First author with Nestor Labiyi and Simon Agani)
2013 Sacred Trees of the Savè Hills Cultural Landscape. University of Michigan Working Papers in Museum Studies 10: 1-18.
2013 African Art and the Shape of Time (Exhibition Preview). African Arts 46(1): 72-81. (Contributor with Prita Meier and Raymond Silverman)
2012 African Art and the Shape of Time. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Museum of Art. (Contributor with Prita Meier and Raymond Silverman)
2013 Compte Rendu du Projet de Recherche Archéologique des Collines de Savè 2013. Prepared for the Directorate of Cultural Heritage, Bénin, and the Department of History and Archaeology, University of Abomey-Calavi, Bénin.
2012 Compte Rendu du Projet de Recherche Archéologique des Collines de Savè 2012. Prepared for the Directorate of Cultural Heritage, Bénin, and the Department of History and Archaeology, University of Abomey-Calavi, Bénin.
Teaching and Student Engagement
Dr. Gurstelle develops new ways in which students can engage with the Museum of Anthropology’s collections. He works with faculty in many departments throughout Wake Forest University to bring objects into classrooms so that students can make a direct connection with material objects from places and times they could not otherwise experience.
Dr. Gurstelle supervises student interns for the Museum of Anthropology. Interns work on directed projects in the fields of exhibit curation, museum education, and collections management. In addition, he regularly teaches courses on museum anthropology:
ANT 190: Introduction to Museum Studies
ANT 305: Museum Anthropology
FYS 100: Night at the Museum