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African Archaeology Research Day 2013

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The Sainsbury Institute for Art at the University of East Anglia welcomes you to African Archaeology Research Day 2013

We are delighted to invite you to the 10th African Archaeology Research Day (AARD). This is being hosted by the Sainsbury Institute for Art on Friday 1st November and Saturday 2nd November, 2013. This year the conference will include one or two invited keynote speakers, papers in a series of themed sessions, smaller discussion groups on the Saturday morning, and posters, which will be available for viewing over the duration of the conference.

This year’s organising committee is Anne Haour, Joanne Clarke, Sam Nixon, Nick Brooks and Nadia Khalaf. Also see the Centre for African Art and Archaeology for more information on African research at UEA.

The theme of the conference is ‘Africa’s material culture past and present’. Our central theme will be, of course, African archaeology, but we are keen to attract input from related disciplines such as art history, heritage management, history and museology.

The conference will take place at and close to the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts.

The two keynote speakers have now been confirmed:

Eric Huysecom, University of Geneva – From Mali to Senegal: the research of the “Ounjougou” team.

Tim Reynolds, Birkbeck – The Haua Fteah, recent work and implications.

The following Saturday sessions running 9.30-11.30 have been confirmed:

Aspects of ritual in African archaeology

(Stephanie Wynne-Jones and Anne Haour)

In the session we will explore, partly through specific case studies and partly through a theoretical overview, two main questions. Firstly, how can archaeologists aim to distinguish ritual and religious behaviours in the African material record - how can we improve the way we recognise these behaviours? Secondly, and more specifically, are we justified in using 'ritual' to make sense of difficult-to-explain archaeological deposits and elements of material culture in the African archaeological record?

Speakers include Stephanie Wynne-Jones, Joyce Dartey, Neil Norman, Bryn James, Andrew Reid, and Laurence Douny.

Archaeologists and development in Africa: consultants or activists?

(Charlie Arthur and Peter Mitchell)

Africa is one of the fastest developing continents in the world and its heritage resources are increasingly under pressure. The role of the archaeologist as manager of these resources appears to be changing as the pace of development quickens; now the talk is of activism and engagement rather than salvage or compliance. What has changed? Is it simply the enormous scale and destructive nature of some large-scale development projects that encourages archaeologists to get involved in this way? Or is this a reflection of a genuine sea change within the discipline and the drive for a more politically aware and socially engaged archaeological practice? This is an important question as it gets to the heart of why we do archaeology. In other words, do our obligations lie with the physical remains that we recover from excavations or the people and the places of Africa?
Speakers include Noemie Arazi, Patrick Darling, Shadia Taha, Mardjoua Barpougouni, Matt Davies, Anna Kotarba-Morley and Sada Mire.

East Africa’s engagement with the Indian Ocean world: New projects and perspectives

(Alison Crowther & Nicole Boivin)

East Africa has a long history of interaction with the Indian Ocean world, evidenced through a variety of disciplinary datasets.  The earliest phases of the region’s Indian Ocean contact and interaction have nonetheless remained rather elusive and contentious.  Recent archaeological projects, particularly involving the methods of the archaeological sciences, are providing important insights into these early phases.  This session will explore new approaches to and insights into East Africa’s involvement in the larger Indian Ocean world.

Contributors:  Mark Horton, Alison Crowther, Solomon Pomerantz, Leilani Lucas, Michele Wollstonecroft

Museum collections

(Fiona Savage, née Sheales)

Since 2008 the economic downturn has seen funding for public museums reduced.  The impact on institutions, whose collections include historical and/or contemporary ethnographic material from Africa and elsewhere has yet to be assessed but it is probable that the affects of staff reductions and reduced research activities will have important and long-term consequences for the future development of museum ethnography.  Through a series of indiividual case studies this panel will include papers about individual collectors/collections of African art/ethnography, the changing collecting practices and acquisition policies of museums in respect of African material, how the care and conservation of Africa collections have been managed during this period and how curators and curatorial assistants continue to conduct research on the collections they have responsibility for in an environment where investment and funding have seen cuts.

Contributors: Lucie Smolderen, Rachel Hand, Vicky Van Bockhaven, Chris Wingfield, Johanna Zetterstrom-Sharp, John Mack

The full Final Programme for the event is available here, as well as a conference poster.

The first African Archaeology Research Day on ‘Research Africa’s Past, New Contributions from British Archaeologists’ was held in Oxford in 2002 organised by Peter Mitchell, Anne Haour and John Hobart. The meetings are informal and are aimed at encouraging both undergraduate and postgraduate students, as well as established academics, to present their research. They include plenty of time for informal discussion.

Since 2002, the conference has been led by various academics in the field, at different venues across the country:

2002 Oxford (Peter Mitchell, Anne Haour and John Hobart)
2003 No meeting
2004 UCL (Kevin MacDonald and Andrew Reid)
2005 No meeting
2006 Oxford (Peter Mitchell and Kat Manning)
2007 Manchester (Tim Insoll, Tim Clack and Sarah Croucher)
2008 York (Paul Lane)
2009 Liverpool (Larry Barham and Laura Bishop)
2010 Cambridge (Rob Foley and Marta Lahr)
2011 UCL (Kevin MacDonald, Sirio Canos Donnay, and Nick Gestrich)
2012 Southampton (Laura Basell and James Cole)

Work on-going on a thirteenth-century house at the site of Birnin Lafiya, Bénin, winter 2013