McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research
University of Cambridge
University of Cambridge
Nik was an Early Stage Researcher at Uppsala University and part of the Resilience in East African Landscapes (REAL) Innovative Training Network. His PhD research focused on the human-environment relationships of the Ilchamus community in Kenya’s Rift Valley, which showed that communities successfully adapted to various environmental and political changes, while also showing that the environmental degradation of the Lake Baringo basin is a relatively recent phenomenon.
He continues to work in Baringo with the Ilchamus researching the community’s interesting history of ethnogenesis and how the diverse migration history of clans and families might be preserved in crafts, material culture, and other forms of evidence. With the Ilchamus, he is co-creating exhibitions and media that help preserve their cultural knowledge and demonstrate how this minority is a microcosm of the Rift Valley’s recent history. Nik is developing new modes of engaging with communities in archaeological and ethnographic research, and using these insights to discuss archaeology’s role in addressing climate and environmental change.
Nik also worked as a curator for the Endangered Material Knowledge Programme at the British Museum, a new research initiative into the ethnographic research of material objects through digital recording methods. There he designed the Material Culture Ethnography Metadata Schema – a broad schema aimed at recording the social and material aspects of making and use of cultural objects. He also set up the programme’s knowledge repository. He is also involved in Exeter University’s Imagining Futures project.
More recently, Nik has joined Cambridge Zero as a Research Engagement Manager, where he is helping coordinate the University’s research initiatives on climate change and sustainability.
Nik continues to be interested in historical archaeology and historical ecology of East Africa, community engagement, climate communication, and in the question of digital archiving.
• Boles, O.J.C., Shoemaker, A., Courtney Mustaphi, C.J. et al. Historical Ecologies of Pastoralist Overgrazing in Kenya: Long-Term Perspectives on Cause and Effect. Hum Ecol 47, 419–434 (2019).
• van der Plas, G.W., De Cort, G., Petek-Sargeant, N., Wuytack, T., Colombaroli, D., Lane, P.J. and Verschuren, D., 2019. Distinct phases of natural landscape dynamics and intensifying human activity in the central Kenya Rift Valley during the past 1300 years. Quaternary Science Reviews, 218, pp.91-106.
• Petek-Sargeant, N. and Lane, P. J. (2021) “Weathering Climate Change in Archaeology: Conceptual Challenges and an East African Case Study,” Cambridge Archaeological Journal. Cambridge University Press, 31(3), pp. 437–454. doi: 10.1017/S0959774321000044
• Petek-Sargeant, N. and Lane, P.J., 2022. Weather Landscapes and Archaeology: Material weathering practices and tangible climates. Archaeol. Soc. Environ, 2, pp.1-24.
• Petek-Sargeant, N., (2020) Material Culture Ethnography Metadata Schema. London: British Museum. https://doi.org/10.25420/britishmuseum.13238105.v1, https://doi.org/10.25420/britishmuseum.14071271.v2 and https://doi.org/10.25420/britishmuseum.13238090.v1
• Petek-Sargeant, N., 2021. Remembering Turkana: material histories and contemporary livelihoods in north-western Kenya: by Samuel F. Derbyshire. Abingdon, Routledge, 2020, 254 pp.,£ 120/160(hardback),ISBN978-0-367-43109-9.
• Petek-Sargeant, N. (2020) Ilchamus stories told through photographs, objects, and archaeology. Nkatinin o Ilchamus naatolimuaki aimunye nkitodolunot, ntokitin o ntokitin e apa naaturuno. Touring exhibition in the Baringo South constituency, Kenya; from 28th Feb to 9th March 2020
• Petek-Sargeant, N. (2020) Before it disappears: recording endangered practices, skills and knowledge. The British Museum Blog: Museum Stories.