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Welcome to African Archaeology!

The Journal of African Archaeology is an international peer-reviewed periodical appearing half-yearly since 2003. It publishes original papers addressing recent research and developments in African archaeology and related disciplines. The journal's main purpose is to provide scholars and students with a new pan-African forum for discussing relevant topics on the cultural dynamics of past African societies.

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Vol. 1 (2) 2003

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I. Thiaw

Archaeology and the public in Senegal: reflections on doing fieldwork at home

Journal of African Archaeology, Vol. 1 (2), 2003, pages 215-225, DOI 10.3213/1612-1651-100010

Abstract
In contrast to the practice of history that is deeply rooted in African societies in the form of oral traditions, to many Senegalese, archaeological inquiry is rather a strange and mysterious endeavor. Both text and speech are based on language and thus permit historians to draw correlations between documentary and oral based histories. For archaeologists however, the difficulty of finding a local intellectual endeavor that matches what they do remains a tedious task. They dig up dirt, collect useless discarded sherds and stones from ancient sites and garbage dumps, and open up other people's graves. What archaeologists do is locally associated with people suffering mental disability, thus putting a tremendous social pressure on local archaeologists. Recent interests in historical archaeology permitted us to distinguish two different attitudes of the public with respect to the archaeological past: a prehistoric past that is unclaimed and uncontested; and a recent historic past that is claimed and contested. While the history of archaeology in Senegal explains these public attitudes toward the archaeological past, the implications are extremely broad and pose problems of public outreach affecting the management of cultural resources, museums' exhibits, etc.

Résumé
Contrairement à l'histoire qui est profondément enracinée dans les sociétés africaines sous la forme de traditions orales, pour beaucoup de Sénégalais, la recherche archéologique est plutôt une activité étrange et mystérieuse. Le texte et la parole, sont basés sur le langage et ainsi permettent aux historiens de faire des corrélations entre l'histoire basée sur les sources documentaires et l'oralité. Pour les archéologues cependant, la difficulté de trouver un exercice intellectuel local correspondant à ce qu'ils font reste une tâche difficile. Ils creusent le sol, collectent des tessons et pierres inutiles de sites anciens ou de tas de poubelles, et fouillent les tombes des gens. Le travail des archéologues est localement associé aux gens souffrant d'un handicap mental, constituant ainsi une pression sociale considérable sur les archéologues locaux. Le récent intéressement en l'archéologie historique nous permet de distinguer deux attitudes différentes du public par rapport au passé archéologique. Un passé préhistorique qui est ni revendiqué ni contesté, et un passé historique récent qui est à la fois, revendiqué et contesté. Bien que l'histoire de l'archéologie au Sénégal explique ces attitudes par rapport au passé archéologique, les conséquences sont extrêmement vastes et posent des problèmes d'implications du public, affectant la gestion des ressources culturelles, les expositions des musées, etc.




Keywords: archaeology, cultural heritage, history, public outreach, Senegal


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Shadreck Chirikure, South Africa
A. Catherine D'Andrea, Canada
Manfred K.H. Eggert, Germany
Elena Garcea, Italy
Diane Gifford-Gonzalez, USA
Timothy Insoll, UK
Tom Huffman, South Africa
Eric Huysecom, Switzerland
David Killick, USA
Savino di Lernia, Italy
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Scott MacEachern, USA
David Mattingly, UK
Susan Keech McIntosh, USA
David W. Phillipson, UK
Gilbert Pwiti, Zimbabwe
Peter Robertshaw, USA
Robert Vernet, France
Lyn Wadley, South Africa

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Annabelle Gallin, France
Richard Byer, Germany

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Carlos Magnavita, Germany


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