Final Discussions and Writing a Declaration

Yesterday was our last intensive day of site visits. Today’s sessions in Legon marked the culmination of the week’s visits and workshop’s goal to write a declaration about Ghana’s archaeology and cultural heritage sties. Our activities today were held at the University of Ghana’s (UGL) International House. Workshop organizers, Ray Silverman (University of Michigan, History of Art) and Kodzo Gavua (University of Ghana, Archaeology and Heritage Studies), led the discussions for the morning and afternoon sessions.

In the morning, three graduate students from the University of Michigan (Andrew Gurstelle, Travis Williams. and Allison Martino), summarized the week’s activities and began making connections between the site visits and some of the critical questions we began discussion at the start of the workshop. Next, William Gblerkpor continued yesterday’s discussion with a short presentation about the dissertation research he conducted at Krobo mountain. Following, the current director of the Ghana National Museum, Zagba Nahr Oyortey, shared his insights about the relationships between archaeology and museums, and his anticipated plans for new partnerships and future collaboration. We ended the morning session with campus visits to the bookshop and the Department of Archaeology and Heritage Studies. Workshop participants visited the department’s archaeology museum, which currently features an exhibition on Ghana’s glass beads organized by Gertrude Aba Mansah Eyifa-Dzidzienyo, workshop participant and lecturer in the Department of Archaeology and Heritage Studies at the University of Ghana.

After our break for lunch, we resumed our discussion with an intensive afternoon session to address major issues arising from our site visits. Some of the themes emerging from our discussion included: integrative approaches and attention to local community engagement, alternative museum spaces and conceptualizing museum as process, education and modes of communication, management practices, and the roles of heritage sites in cultivating social cohesion. The conversation then shifted to focusing on the goals and objectives for the declaration.

A five-person committee was formed to draft the declaration in the afternoon. After the committee met to draft the declaration, the session resumed as they presented the document to the group. The workshop participants then worked together to refine the declaration. By the close of the day’s activities, the participants successfully produced a declaration about Ghana’s archaeology and cultural heritage sites. It will soon be disseminated to important individuals and institutions in Ghana. The declaration represents the culmination of the workshop’s week-long activities and site visits, and participants hope that its recommendations will make a significant contribution to Ghana’s heritage sites.

To celebrate the workshop’s successes and our last evening in Ghana, we went to Chez Afrique, a popular restaurant in East Legon, for a dinner filled with delicious Ghanaian entrees and live music to enjoy on the outdoor patio. Tomorrow, the visiting participants from the UK, South Africa and the United States will return home. The completed declaration represents a significant accomplishment from the workshop. But the conversations with one another arising from our site visits were equally valuable experiences as workshop participants look ahead to future collaboration and continued discussion about the critical issues surrounding archaeology and cultural heritage sites in Ghana.

*Blog entry by Allison Martino, University of Michigan

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