Archaeology and Heritage Workshop in Accra, Ghana

We are pleased to announce that the African Studies Center’s African Heritage Initiative is co-sponsoring an Archaeology and Heritage Workshop December 14-19th in and around Ghana’s capital, Accra. Organized in partnership with the University of Ghana Department of Archaeology and Heritage Studies, the workshop is meant to serve as a forum for thinking about archaeology as heritage, with a special eye turned to West Africa.

The workshop is guided by two overlapping themes: 1) the layered and often contested narratives that coalesce at heritage/archaeological sites, and 2) the threats that “development” poses for archaeology and history, as well as how these threats might be mitigated. Throughout the week, the participants will be coming together and discussing these issues through seminar-style sessions, as well as through direct encounters with specific archaeology/heritage sites in the region.

Well, “What’s the endgame?” you might ask. Just what exactly are we hoping to get out of this workshop? First and most importantly, we will be producing a white paper based on our discussions to be shared with relevant government agencies, corporations, and non-government organizations that work with and on archaeological or heritage sites. Often workshops are organized with the goal of writing an academic publication that most of the general public would never see or feel its effects; our workshop’s white paper is meant to make such a goal secondary. It provides us with a direct means of descent from the ivory tower of academic research, making the workshop relevant to academic outsiders through its usefulness in the craft of public policy. Secondarily, we anticipate the workshop will inform the individual participants’ research, possibly leading to future publications that continue the dialogue began at the workshop.

Speaking of the participants, the University of Michigan will be represented in Accra by four professors (Drs. Geoff Emberling, Raymond Silverman, Carla Sinopoli and Brian Stewart) and three graduate students (Andrew Gurstelle, Allison Joan Martino, and Travis Williams) whose breadth of research speaks to the diverse knowledge to be brought to bear on the workshop’s themes. In addition to us folks from UM, there will be seventeen other participants in the workshop representing six other universities in Ghana, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. This blog will be updated throughout the workshop with news, stories, and interviews from the week’s events. We hope this will provide a medium through which people back at UM (and anywhere else!) can stay connected to what we are doing on the ground in Accra. As things gear up for our departure and the workshop begins, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for more blog posts!

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