I study houses and domestic life as drivers of social change, particularly around the beginnings of settled life in the Neolithic in southwest Asia (especially Turkey). I like to think that small lives have rather more importance for our communities and their futures than most histories tend to imagine. This drives my interest in how past people's home lives shaped history, which I study archaeologically through excavated architecture, stratigraphy, and a range of tools for visualising and analysing change through time.
In addition to my research into Neolithic housing, I have an omnivorous interest in archaeological theory as well as contemporary social theory, especially around material culture, new materialism, and humanist and posthumanist approaches to social change.
My doctoral research, The Material Politics of Houses at Çatalhöyük, ca. 7000-6300 BCE (Cambridge, 2020) developed new ways to explore fine-grained change within houses stratigraphically, and new ways to think about domestic life as a political force, focusing on the famous Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük in Turkey. My new Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship, Architecture of Dislocation: Neolithic Houses and the Politics of Mobility (2021-2024), investigates disruptions and displacements that occurred in people's home lives at several Neolithic sites in Turkey, using these as a new lens to think about the spread of settled farming life.
I have been involved in interdisciplinary collaborations with architects, archaeologists and land economists around architecture, visual methods, housing and social change, through networks in Cambridge, Birkbeck, and the Bartlett School of Architecture, including a PhD Prize Fellowship with the Cambridge Real Estate Research Centre 'Future Cities' research group. I am a member of both the Material Worlds Research Cluster and the Intersectional Bodies Research Cluster in the School of Archaeology and Ancient History in Leicester.
If you are struggling to access any of my research, please do not hesitate to get in touch
Peer reviewed articles and chapters
Eriksen, M.H., and Kay, K. 2022. Reflections on Posthuman Ethics. Grievability and the More-than-human Worlds of Iron and Viking Age Scandinavia. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 30(3), 451-68. [Open access]
Kay, K. 2021. Entwining time and materializing communities: house biographies and temporalities of space-making. In I. Hodder and C. Tsoraki (eds.) Communities at Work: the Making of Catalhöyük. London: British Institute at Ankara.
Kay, K. 2020. Dynamic houses and communities at Çatalhöyük: a building biography approach to prehistoric social structure. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 30(3), 451-68.
Wisher, I., and Kay, K. 2020. Animal-human interactions: becoming, creating, relating. In K. Kaercher, M. Arntz, N. Bomentre, X. Hermoso-Buxán, K. Kay, S. Ki, R. Macleod, H. Muñoz-Mojado, L. Timbrell & I. Wisher (eds), New Frontiers in Archaeology: Proceedings of the Cambridge Annual Student Archaeology Conference 2019. Oxford: Archaeopress. [Open access]
K. Kaercher, M. Arntz, N. Bomentre, X. Hermoso-Buxán, K. Kay, S. Ki, R. Macleod, H. Muñoz-Mojado, L. Timbrell & I. Wisher (eds), New Frontiers in Archaeology: Proceedings of the Cambridge Annual Student Archaeology Conference 2019. Oxford: Archaeopress. [Open access]
Kay, K. The material politics of houses at Çatalhöyük, 7000-6300. PhD Thesis, University of Cambridge. [Open access]
I currently teach in the following modules:
- AR1004: World Archaeology BC
- AR2029: Archaeological Theory
I have previously taught:
- AR1553: Later Prehistory
- AR1010: Making Sense of the Past
AR2032: Prehistory of Britain and Ireland
Press and media
My research touches on contemporary questions of homes, housing, and residential mobility as well as archaeological topics on the beginnings of farming and settled life in southwest Asia and Europe.
I am/have been active in organising or participating in a number of academic networks around architecture and theory. These include the Living Architecture Group (co-convenor with Marianne Hem Eriksen & Lesley McFadyen, 2018-19), Archaeological Architectures -Architectural Archaeologies (UCL/Birkbeck; participant 2019-2021), and the Cambridge Real Estate Research Centre 'Future Cities' Programme (PhD Prize Fellow, 2018).
I chaired the organizing committee of the inaugural Cambridge Annual Student Archaeology Conference (2017), which still gathers students from around the world each year
Select Sessions Organised
Animal-human interactions: becoming, making, relating (w/ Isobel Wisher, CASA 2019)
- Types and typelessness: (Ir-)regularity in creative action and things' becoming (w/ Mark Haughton & Marianne Hem Eriksen, TAG 2018)
- Temporality and relationality in place-making (w/ Julie Lund & Marianne Hem Eriksen, EAA 2018)
- Envisioning a material culture theory of substance (w/ Laurence Ferland, TAG 2017)
Select Invited Talks
- Houses as ontological politics at Çatalhöyük: becoming less than many. U. Leicester, 2021
- Value and the habitus: social futures in Çatalhöyük houses. U. Sheffield, 2021
- Houses of leaves at Çatalhöyük: unstable houses as engines of change. U. Liverpool, 2021
- Neolithic houses as engines of movement. U. Cambridge, 2021
- Unstable social structure and political lives at Çatalhöyük: houses as multiples. Where the Wild Things Are: Ontology and Domestic Space workshop, McDonald Institute, 2019
- The textures and times of prehistoric houses. Archaeology-Drawing-Architecture workshop, The Bartlett School of Architecture, 2019