Liberating Archaeology and Heritage in Africa

Ashton Sinamai, John Kelechi Ugwuanyi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


In Africa, archaeology came as a part of the colonial package whose aim was to govern and understand the natives in the process of civilising them. Its starting point has always been how the African past compares to that of Europe. In other words, how far behind Africa was to Europe. Being a tool for colonial governance, archaeology and its related disciplines excluded communities through legislations and interpretation. Identification, management, research, and use were all legislated and heritage became the property of the colonial government. Independent Africa inherited these legislations and has continued to use them with minor amendments, maintaining the dynamics of the established authority of the state. The modern heritage industry in Africa today reflects this exclusion through the indifference that some communities have toward their own heritage. This apathy arises out of the colonial attitudes about religion and racial superiority and has shaped the heritage industry in Africa. The result of this is the belief that archaeological and heritage sites are not important, and are owned by national institutions and visited by foreign tourists. Deriving from the tenets of ‘community’ and ‘public’ archaeology, this paper argues that the patterns, forms, and ideologies inherent in most African heritage can mentally empower communities and (re)ignite progressive consciousness that can give communities confidence in themselves and their abilities. Using two case studies in Nigeria and Zimbabwe, it demonstrates how archaeology and heritage can help to secure ontological security and social capital to encourage community development in Africa
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationN/A
Publication statusUnpublished - 2 Jul 2016
EventSociety for Africanist Archaeologists (SAfA): Community Archaeology - University of Toulouse, Jean Jaures, Toulouse, France
Duration: 26 Jun 20162 Jul 2016


ConferenceSociety for Africanist Archaeologists (SAfA)


  • Postcolonial
  • Archaeology
  • Heritage

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