Community Archaeology and Heritage in Africa: Decolonizing Practice, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Community Archaeology and Heritage in Africa

Decolonizing Practice, 1st Edition

Edited by Peter R. Schmidt, Innocent Pikirayi


310 pages

CHOICE 2018 Outstanding Academic Title Award Winner
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This volume provides new insights into the distinctive contributions that community archaeology and heritage make to the decolonization of archaeological practice. Using innovative approaches, the contributors explore important initiatives which have protected and revitalized local heritage, initiatives that involved archaeologists as co-producers rather than leaders. These case studies underline the need completely reshape archaeological practice, engaging local and indigenous communities in regular dialogue and recognizing their distinctive needs, in order to break away from the top-down power relationships that have previously characterized archaeology in Africa.

Community Archaeology and Heritage in Africa reflects a determined effort to change how archaeology is taught to future generations. Through community-based participatory approaches, archaeologists and heritage professionals can benefit from shared resources and local knowledge; and by sharing decision-making with members of local communities, archaeological inquiry can enhance their way of life, ameliorate their human rights concerns, and meet their daily needs to build better futures. Exchanging traditional power structures for research design and implementation, the examples outlined in this volume demonstrate the discipline’s exciting capacity to move forward to achieve its potential as a broader, more accessible, and more inclusive field.


"This important text on community involvement with archaeology in Africa constitutes the most extensive examination to date of the roles that African communities can and should play in engaging with archaeologists and cultural heritage management practitioners… An absolutely indispensable text for anyone doing archaeology or heritage management, in Africa or elsewhere. Summing Up: Essential."

— S. MacEachern, Bowdoin College, CHOICE Reviews

"Schmidt and Pikirayi’s edited volume is an important contribution… Archaeologists and heritage practitioners working in Africa may respond defensively to the content of this volume, believing that their practice is not colonial and thus not in need of decolonising. However, it is only through critical reflection and new research approaches, as promoted in this volume, that as archaeologists we can expose to ourselves the underlying colonial biases that the various communities that witness, and are impacted by, our work so often perceive."

— John Giblin, Azania: Archarological Research in Africa

Table of Contents

1: Introduction to Community Archaeology and Heritage in Africa: Decolonizing Practice

Innocent Pikirayi and Peter R. Schmidt

2: Maasai People and Oldupai (Olduvai) Gorge: Looking for Sustainable People-Centred Approaches and Practices

Asmeret G. Mehari, Kokeli P. Ryano and Naserian Ndangoya

3: Walking the Long Path to Partnership: Archaeology and Communities in Eastern Africa

George Abungu

4: Collaborative Archaeology and Heritage in Africa: Views from the Trench and Beyond

Peter R. Schmidt

5: Heritage, Memories and Community Development: The case of Shimoni Slave Caves Site, Kenya

Patrick Abungu

6: Archaeology, Local Knowledge and Tradition: The Quest for Relevant Approaches to the Study and Use of the Past in Southern Africa

Innocent Pikirayi

7: Old Archaeology Camouflaged as New and Inclusive? South African Community Archaeology in the 21st Century

Ndukuyakhe Ndlovu

8: Cultural Pathways to Development Among Communities: The Cultural Banks in Mali

Anne Mayor and Eric Huysecom

9: Perspective on Heritage, Local Community and Archaeological Engagements in Parts of Northern Yorubaland, Nigeria

Jonathan O. Aleru and Kolawole Adekola

10: “We will not Relocate until our Ancestors and Shrines Come with Us”: Heritage and Conflict Management in the Bui Dam Project Area, Ghana

Wazi Apoh and Kodzo Gavua

11: In Lieu of Community Archaeology? Mandara Archaeological Project (1984-2008): Outreach and Involvement in Heritage issues

Nic David and Judy Sterner

12: Community Archaeology and Heritage in Africa: Conversations inspired by a workshop

Carol McDavid, Uzma Rizvi and Laurajane Smith

About the Editors

Peter R. Schmidt is Professor of Anthropology and African Studies at the University of Florida, USA, as well as Extraordinary Professor of Anthropology and Archaeology at the University of Pretoria, South Africa.

Innocent Pikirayi is currently Professor and Head of the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology at the University of Pretoria, South Africa.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Archaeology