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Katie Custer Bojakowski

Instructional Assistant Professor
  • Anthropology 312D
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Maritime archaeology and seafaring history. Post-Medieval (15th to 19th centuries) seafaring and ship construction in the Atlantic World; rigging and outfitting of ships; early navigation and maps; and life aboard ships. Modern American seafaring and ship construction (19th century to WWII); maritime trade routes in the Pacific Ocean; WWII naval battles and shipwrecks; potentially polluting modern shipwrecks. WWII Japanese American Confinement Sites. Cultural Resource Management; Historic Preservation and Federal Regulations (NHPA; Section 106/110, NEPA).

Current Research Projects:

Warwick Project

The Warwick Project is a joint effort of the National Museum of Bermuda (NMB), Institute of Nautical Archaeology (INA), Texas A&M University, and University of Southampton (UK). The original focus of this project was the excavation of the hull remains and artifacts from Warwick, a ship that sank in Castle Harbour, Bermuda during the hurricane of 1619. Part of the historical and scientific importance of Warwick is the discovery of previously unknown technical solutions to traditional shipbuilding problems, new constructional features, the remains of provisions and tobacco, as well as navigational and rigging artifacts which helped to redefine our understanding of Early Modern English seafaring. The Warwick Project will expand into a larger research program excavating and analyzing English ships used for trans-Atlantic trade and the colonization of North America.

Equator Project

The Equator Project involves the application of new technologies to the preservation of historic ships. Equator was built by Matthew Turner, one of the most prolific and respected American shipwrights in the 19th century, in Benicia, California, in 1888. It was designed as a merchant sailing vessel to be used in the South Seas copra trade. During this time Equator was chartered by Scottish author, Robert Louis Stevenson, for his second cruise among the islands of the South Pacific. It was later sold and converted from sail to a steam tender for the Alaskan salmon canneries. Equator underwent its third transformation in 1915 when it was outfitted with a diesel engine and became a tugboat based out of Seattle. It remained in operation until 1956 at which time it was scuttled at the mouth of the Snohomish River in Everett, WA. Equator was raised in 1967, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972, and is currently dry-docked in the Port of Everett in Washington State. To support the Washington State Historic Preservation Office, City and Port of Everett, and Robert L. Stevenson Museum, Equator requires intensive field work to document and record the hull remain, take samples for dendro-analysis and timber sourcing, conduct archival and museum research, and to develop a long-term preservation and storage plan.

Emerald Bay Project

The Emerald Bay Project was a collaboration between the University of California, San Diego and the Center for Interdisciplinary Science of Art, Architecture and Archaeology (CISA3), and California State Parks. This multi-disciplinary project aimed at post-excavation assessment of two 19th-century submerged barges located in Emerald Bay along the south-west shore of Lake Tahoe. The goal of the project was to support cultural monitoring, testing, and development of digital technologies, 3D recording methods, and Structure from Motion (SfM) for historic preservation as applied to the underwater environment. Today, these barges are part of an interpreted shipwreck trail within the California State Parks system.

Iconographic Evidence of Iberian Ships of Discovery Project

This project focused on maritime exploration during the Age of Discovery and the vessels that were the technological impetus for this dynamic era. Little is known about the caravel, galleon, and nau, three ships which defined this era of global expansion; archival documents provide scant information regarding these vessels and to date there are only a few known archaeological examples. The caravel, galleon, and nau became lasting symbols of the bourgeoning Portuguese and Spanish maritime empires and are featured prominently in contemporaneous iconography.  This research bridged the gap between the humanities and sciences through the statistical analysis of these ships in the iconographic record. As one of the first intensive uses of iconography in nautical archaeology, the study analyzed over 500 images using descriptive statistics and representational trends analysis. This research also addressed technology as a cultural symbol in order to understand how and why cultures attach such powerful and important symbolism to technology and adopt it as an identifying feature.


Courses Taught:

Anthropological Perspectives of Gender

Anthropological Research Methods

Anthropological Theory

Anthropology of Religion, Magic, and Rituals

Anthropology of War

Applied Anthropology

Ethnographic Research Capstone

Fundamentals of Anthropological Writing

Global Socioeconomics

History and Archaeology of Pirates and Privateers

Human Health and Global Environmental Change

Introduction to Anthropology

Introduction to Social Sciences

Material Culture: Archaeology and the Human Condition

Native American Anthropology

Peacemaking: A Global Study of Conflict Resolution and Activism

Peoples and Cultures of the World

Science, Technology, and Society

Urban Anthropology

Selected and Recent Publications:

Bojakowski, P., K. Custer-Bojakowski. (under review). “Warwick: an overview of the artifacts assemblage recovered from the early 17th-century English ship; Castle Harbour, Bermuda – Part 2.” International Journal of Nautical Archaeology.

Bojakowski, P., K. Custer-Bojakowski. 2017. “The Warwick: a final report on the excavation of the early 17th-century English shipwreck; Castle Harbour, Bermuda – Part 1.” International Journal of Nautical Archaeology 46(2):  284-302.

Bojakowski, P., K. Custer-Bojakowski, P. Naughton. 2015. “A Comparison Between Structure from Motion and Direct Survey Methodologies on the Warwick.” Journal of Maritime Archaeology 10(2): 159-180.

Bojakowski, P. 2011. “The Western Ledge Reef Wreck: continuing research on the late 16th-/early 17th-century Iberian shipwreck from Bermuda.” Post-Medieval Archaeology 45(1):18-40.

Bojakowski, P., and K. Custer-Bojakowski. 2011. “The Warwick: results of the survey of an early 17th-century Virginia Company ship.” Post-Medieval Archaeology 45(1):41-53.

Castro, Filipe Viera de Castro and Katie Custer (Editors), 2008, Edge of Empire: Proceedings of the Symposium “Edge of Empire” Held at the 2006 Annual Meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology Sacramento CA. Caleidoscópio, Portugal.

Custer, Katie, 2008, Exploration and Empire: Iconographic Evidence of Iberian Ships of Discovery in Edge of Empire: Proceedings of the Symposium “Edge of Empire” Held at the 2006 Annual Meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology Sacramento CA edited by Filipe Castro and Katie Custer. Caleidoscópio, Portugal.