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Denis Misiko Mukhongo
PhD student
Darwin College
Dept. of Archaeology & Anthropology
University of Cambridge


Project Supervisor Funding
Molecular History and Geography of the Turkana in North Western Kenya: The impact of culture, environment and demography Marta Mirazon Lahr Cambridge Trusts (Cambridge International PhD Scholarship)

The Turkana region has a complex history of occupation. The tribe called Turkana are relatively recent migrants to the area, having branched off the main Jie/Karamajong tribe of northern Uganda in the last few hundred years. They have retained a pastoral subsistence strategy until the present, although sedentarisation and aid provisioning increasingly challenge their way of life. However, certain aspects of their traditional life, such as raiding for cattle and wives have been retained. So despite the many indications that the days of the nomad are numbered, the Turkana are one of the last examples of an East African pastoralist group who still survives from the raising of livestock, tending herds and 'successfully' leading their nomadic life, as they have done for hundreds of years. Finally, in the course of the 20th century, the Turkana have undergone a very significant demographic expansion, a rate of population growth that continues today. My project investigates biological, cultural and ecological adaptations in the Turkana using genomic approaches, and seeks signatures of effect of life in such a harsh and inhospitable environment, a life of high mobility, of high levels of protein from animals' milk and low levels of carbohydrates, of major changes in demographic parameters. The understanding of these signatures is partly contingent on history, and therefore my project also examines aspects of Turkana diversity and history from genetic and anthropological perspectives.

I have recently published a book based on my MSc research, carried out at Jomo Kenyatta University:

I am co-PI with Dr Marta Mirazon Lahr on the project Tribes.





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