Postcolonial Archaeologies in Africa

Edited by Peter R. Schmidt

Postcolonial Archaeologies in AfricaPostcolonial Archaeologies in AfricaPostcolonial Archaeologies in Africa

“Silencing very much comes into play when important research explaining change overturns deeply entrenched and essentialized colonial paradigms,” writes Peter R. Schmidt, editor of the first major publication to feature African (rather than European and American) archaeologists’ research and political challenges to previous representations of African archaeology. “How does this process unfold? By purposefully ignoring important alternative histories proffered by young Africanists and by misrepresenting the significance of new ways of seeing the past.” Schmidt quotes a participant at one of the seminars that led up to the volume who said, “It is astounding how archaeologists moved into the postcolonial period with so little reflection on how much colonial baggage they were carrying in their books, packs, and heads.” Recognizing this baggage begins to point a way into the future for the field.

“This book develops new understandings of the postcolonial condition in archaeology by examining archaeological practice: how archaeologists are working to change their discipline in Africa, how their efforts have sometimes led to marginalization, and how they are engaging communities and building partnerships where they work,” Schmidt says in the volume’s opening essay. Featuring some of the foremost archaeologists from Africa and the United States, this book presents cutting-edge proposals for how archaeology in Africa today can be made more relevant to the needs of local communities, from coping with AIDS to promoting economic development and human rights claims and protecting heritage resources. As in Global Health in Times of Violence, the scholars here offer positive alternatives and suggest solutions for making archaeology work for individual and collective well-being.

Find out more about Postcolonial Archaeologies in Africa by visiting the SAR website (opens in new browser window).

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