Theory in Africa, Africa in Theory: Locating Meaning in Archaeology, 1st Edition (e-Book) book cover

Theory in Africa, Africa in Theory

Locating Meaning in Archaeology, 1st Edition

Edited by Stephanie Wynne-Jones, Jeffrey Fleisher


296 pages

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Theory in Africa, Africa in Theory explores the place of Africa in archaeological theory, and the place of theory in African archaeology. The centrality of Africa to global archaeological thinking is highlighted, with a particular focus on materiality and agency in contemporary interpretation. As a means to explore the nature of theory itself, the volume also addresses differences between how African models are used in western theoretical discourse and the use of that theory within Africa.  Providing a key contribution to theoretical discourse through a focus on the context of theory-building, this volume explores how African modes of thought have shaped our approaches to a meaningful past outside of Africa.

A timely intervention into archaeological thought, Theory in Africa, Africa in Theory deconstructs the conventional ways we approach the past, positioning the continent within a global theoretical discourse and blending Western and African scholarship. This volume will be a valuable resource for those interested in the archaeology of Africa, as well as providing fresh perspectives to those interested in archaeological theory more generally.


"The chapters it collates are well written, the volume itself well produced and the paperback edition solidly bound. The book is more reasonably priced than many edited volumes and the electronic edition particularly so… Theory in Africa, Africa in Theory is recommended for its lively, if inevitably partial, engagement with contemporary theory in African archaeology, along with its resonances and effects beyond the continent." — Ann B. Stahl, AZANIA: ARCHAEOLOGICAL RESEARCH IN AFRICA

Table of Contents

I. Disciplinary engagements with Africa

1 Theory in Africa: Africa in theory

Stephanie Wynne-Jones and Jeffrey Fleisher

2 African models in global histories

Scott MacEachern

3 The Problem of equifinality in archaeology

Felix Chami

4 The place of Africa in theory

Henrietta Moore

II. Theory in Africa

5 Problems with practice: Dynamic interpretation in African archaeology

Stephanie Wynne-Jones

6 Situating the Swahili house

Jeffrey Fleisher

7 Pioneers of archaeological thought and practice in postcolonial Nigeria

Akin Ogundiran

8 Settlements and culture: Cognitive models in African prehistory

Thomas Huffman

9 Material expressions of religious identity in Ghana

Kodzo Gavua

10 What kind of science is archaeology? Iron Age studies in southern Africa

Per Ditlef Fredriksen

III. Africa in Archaeological Theory: Impacts beyond the Continent

11 Iron Age imaginaries and barbarian encounters: European prehistory's African past

Paul Lane

12 The African State in Theory: Thoughts on Political Landscapes and the Limits of Rule in Atlantic Senegal (and elsewhere)

François G. Richard

13 Broadening the phenomenological perspective? Lessons from the African landscape

Timothy Insoll

14 Off the coast, but hopefully not too off-the-cuff: Thoughts on anthropological archaeology and theory in Africa and Africa in theory and in practice

Susan Kus

IV. Commentary

15 Archaeology of a continent, in theory

Wendy Ashmore

16 Anthropology, Archaeology and African Studies: Some thoughts on theory, stuff and the possibilities of a new afro-centrism

Joost Fontein

About the Editors

Stephanie Wynne-Jones is a Swahili archaeologist at the University of York, specializing in East African coastal urbanism, material culture and social practice.

Jeffrey B. Fleisher is Associate Professor at Rice University and Director of the Rice University Archaeological Field School.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Archaeology