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Ubuntu Archaeology: A comparison of four different public archaeology projects in South Africa
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Department of Cultural Sciences.
2015 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

This thesis examines four different public archaeology projects in South Africa, and poses questions related to how archaeology is defined and mediated by educational centres and museums in South Africa. The museums have a rather traditional way of mediating archaeological knowledge to a broader public, but they do include exhibitions that invite visitors to interpret human history themselves. The educational centres, on the other hand, are considered to be a category below the traditional museum, where the content is developed in collaboration with indigenous people, and the knowledge about former peoples is mediated by the indigenous people themselves, as part of an objective to develop employment opportunities for marginalised community groups. While educational centres have developed out of this collaboration with indigenous communities, mueseums were established during the colonial period of South Africa. The educational centres are a collaboration between  experts and non-experts, and have an inclusive approach. Museums, in contrast, develop their content based on the experts´knowledge, for the visitor and not with the visitor. However, it is evident that visitors are intended to have a dialogue with the exhibition. An inclusive approach is preferble, where experts and non-experts are on the same level, show mutual respect for each other, and are open to learning from each other. A significant issue that public archaeologists face is that each public project is unique. This means that new methods and ideas are needed for each project. Four different projects have been visited and examined, and it was found that all four projects were unique in terms of the issues that they faced and in terms of how the professionals solve those problems in specific ways adapted to each unigue project. On the one hand, the question of what a successful public project is or can be remains, but on the other hand, it is clear that a well-established collaboration and an understanding for each other is needed to develop a successful public work. In South African terms a succssesful public work could be termed "Ubuntu archaeology", where the word "Ubuntu" is interpretes as Desmond Tutu put it in 1994, where both parties experience each other as equal.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. , 55 p.
Keyword [en]
Public archaeology, South Africa, community archaeology, educational centers, museums
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-46646OAI: diva2:859340
Subject / course
Educational program
Cultural Sciences, Master Programme, 120 credits
Available from: 2015-10-07 Created: 2015-10-06 Last updated: 2015-10-29Bibliographically approved

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