Africa, the birthplace of humanity, offers an untold wealth of information about the human past -- untold because of severe limits on archaeological research there. This volume pulls the veil from previous representations of African archaeology to show that archaeologists working in Africa are still very much in the grip of patronage systems planted during the colonial era, making it difficult for local communities to see cultural benefits from the work. Moreover, innovative young African archaeologists suffer from disdain and marginalization from their senior colleagues. Yet these problems and the tensions between Euro-American practices and African sensibilities and ways of thinking and knowing create a vital opportunity to rejuvenate the practice and theory of archaeology in Africa.
Postcolonial Archaeologies in Africa features some of the foremost archaeologists from Africa and the United States and presents cutting-edge proposals for how archaeology in Africa today can be made more relevant to the needs of local communities, from enhancing cultural capacity to cope with AIDS to promoting economic development and human rights claims, generating locally rooted intellectual paradigms, and preventing the degradation of heritage resources. The authors highlight research programs that offer positive alternatives to colonial-era theories and explore African quests for identities forged from within, the struggle to find meaning in African practice of archaeology, and how to make archaeology work for individual and collective well-being.