Reclaiming Heritage: Alternative Imaginaries of Memory in West Africa

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Struggles over the meaning of the past are common in postcolonial states. State cultural heritage programs build monuments to reinforce nation-building efforts, supported by international organizations and tourist dollars. These efforts often ignore the other, sometimes troubling memories preserved by local communities—markers of colonial oppression, cultural genocide, and ethnic identity. Yet, as the contributors to this volume note, questions of memory, heritage, identity and conservation are interwoven at the local, ethnic, national and global level and cannot be easily disentangled. In a fascinating series of cases from West Africa, anthropologists, archaeologists, and art historians show how memory and heritage play out in a variety of postcolonial contexts. Settings range from televised ritual performances in Mali to monument conservation in Djenné and slavery memorials in Ghana.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"These chapters [case studies] explore the meaning, ownership, control and politics of tradition, memory and heritage especially ‘intangible heritage’ as codified by Unesco. The different approaches and interests of Unesco, national governments, nascent tourist industries and local people of different ethnicities and generations are all teased out and examined…it is worth pondering the complex and fascinating questions raised by this study." —Terry Barringer, African Research & Documentation
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Ferdinand de Jong is Lecturer in Anthropology at the School of World Art Studies and Museology of the University of East Anglia. He has conducted research on masked performances and initiation ceremonies in Senegal. His book Masquerades of Modernity: Power and secrecy in Casamance, Senegal has just been published by Edinburgh University Press. He has also published on conflict resolution in a special issue of the Canadian Journal of African Studies on the civil war in Senegal. His current research focuses on the memory and heritage of the slave trade and colonialism in postcolonial Senegal.Michael Rowlands is Professor of Anthropology at UCL. His research has focused on material culture and cultural heritage studies in West and Central Africa, on new technologies and collections, and the comparative study of long term historical change. Recent publications include A Handbook of Material Culture (2006) and articles on material culture, cultural property and rights, and heritage and modernity.

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Table of Contents

Illustrations 7

Series Editor's Foreword 9

Acknowledgments 11

1 Reconsidering Heritage and Memory Michael Rowlands Ferdinand de Jong 13

Old Origins, New Imaginaries

2 'Taking on a Tradition': African Heritage and the Testimony of Memory Beverley Butler 31

3 Slave Route Projects: Tracing the Heritage of Slavery in Ghana Katharina Schramm 71

4 Picturing the Past: Heritage, Photography, and the Politics of Appearance in a Yoruba City Peter Probst 99

Materiality and Conservation

5 Entangled Memories and Parallel Heritages in Mali Michael Rowlands 127

6 'Enchanting Town of Mud': Djenné, A World Heritage Site in Mali Charlotte Joy 145

7 A Masterpiece of Masquerading: Contradictions of Conservation in Intangible Heritage Ferdinand de Jong 161

Recognition and Reconciliation

8 From a Glorious Past to the Lands of Origin: Media Consumption and Changing Narratives of Cultural Belonging in Mali Dorothea Schulz 185

9 Demystified Memories: The Politics of Heritage in Post-Socialist Guinea Ramon Sarró 215

10 Palimpsest Memoryscapes: Materializing and Mediating War and Peace in Sierra Leone Paul Basu 231

About the Contributors 261

Index 265

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