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AFRICAN ARCHAEOLOGY: THE

CHALLENGE OF RESEARCH
DISSEMINATION

A Presentation by Zacharys Anger Gundu. PhD.


Department of Archaeology, Ahmadu Bello University,
Zaria
at the International Workshop on African Archaeology
organized by the World Archaeological Congress and
the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology,
University of Ibadan, Ibadan 19th -21st February, 2009.
Introduction.
 Research publication / dissemination is poorly
funded in Africa.
 The market is small and limited by high prices.
 Distribution bottlenecks within the continent
(transport, tariffs and other regulations).
 International publishing/journal market is
skewed against Africa and the developing
world.
Introduction (Cont)

 Traditional international scholarly publishing


models are commercially driven.
 Private ownership.
 Divisive and self appointed arbiter of
scholarly ranking.
 Local versus international/mainstream
Thomson- indexed journals.
Introduction (Cont).
 72% of book export worldwide come from
North America, the UK and Western Europe.
 Africa consumes 12% of all books produced in
the world and contributes less than 3% of
books read in the world. (Wafawarowa 2000).
 Generates 0.4% of global online content.
 When South African content is excluded,
continental contribution drops to 0.02%
(Czenniewicz and Brown 2004, cited in Gray
2007)
Introduction (Cont)
 All these have created:
 lack of access to current research (in journals and international discourse).
 ‘Isolation’ of African scholarship.
 Created a feeling (amongst African scholars) of being short of ‘leading intellectual
currents, ideas and approaches’.
 ‘Out of date’ with trends.
 Loss of intellectual self confidence.
Introduction (Cont)
 Undermined ability and willingness to challenge
/recast received Euro- American concepts and
theories.
 African journals (and publications) suffer from
perceived shortfalls in quality.
 They are ranked as second rate by a global system
in which their value is questionable.
 Reinforces the African ‘occupation of the mind’ by
the west and the loss of African systems of
knowing. (Szanton and Manyika 2002).
Our Argument.
 African Archaeology, social Science and
the Humanities in Africa suffer
disproportionately from the global
publishing system.
 Preponderance of foreign based outlets,
contributors and the contradictions of
producing ‘culture knowledge’.
 Too few books on African archaeology.
 Much of the material is outdated.
Our Argument (Cont).
 Other dissemination models (seminars and
conferences) are also skewed against
Africans.
 There is the need to rethink the token
palliatives often offered to ‘deal’ with the
inequalities created by the intellectual
divide between the North and South.
 ‘Sponsorship’ to attend conferences.
 Rebates on journals and other publications.
Our Argument (Cont).
 African universities must address their
failure to recognize dissemination as a
central accountability.
 While not ignoring the contribution of
‘Africanists’ in African archaeology, the
archaeological role to project African
identity, knowledge systems and culture
on the global stage cannot be ceded to
others outside the continent.
 The identity question is strategic and our
voices MUST be LOUD and CLEAR on it.
Our Argument (Cont).
 African voices in archaeology can reach the
different audiences and the world stage more
effectively through Open Access Publishing.
 We endorse the ‘Susan model’ of open access
knowledge creation, sharing and
dissemination in African archaeology.
 And urge African governments to create MOUs
with ‘Africanists’ requiring them to
publish/disseminate their research in such
ways that would be easily accessible to
everyone on the continent.
Challenges of research
dissemination in African
archaeology.

 Finance.
 Accessibility.
 Language.
 Capacity.
 North-South divide.
 Lack of institutional support.
Key Journals/Publications
in African Archaeology.
 African Based.  Foreign Based.
 AZANIA: Archaeological  African Archaeological
Research in Africa. Review.
 South African Archeological  Journal of African
Bulletin. Archaeology.
 West African Journal of  Journal of African History.
Archaeology.  NYAME AKUMA.
 Journal of Environment and  International Journal of
Culture. African Historical Studies.
 Nigerian Heritage.  Journal of African
 KUSH. Civilization.
 Arkamani (Sudan Journal of  Cambridge Monograph in
Archaeology and African Archaeology.
Anthropology).
 SANKOFA.
 Zaria Archaeology Papers.
Key Journals in African
Archaeology
 Many of the African based journals are
moribund/irregular, KUSH and SANKOFA
have ceased publication.
 Those still in print are adjudged as second
rate.
 Many cannot be accessed on the internet.
 While the foreign based ones are produced
regularly.
 Ranked higher and
 Have internet based versions.
Skewed Nature of International
Conferences on African
Archaeology.

 Though international conferences are a


dissemination strategy, many of them
especially organized by ‘Africanists’ are
skewed against Africans.
 Example: SAFA’s biennial conferences on
African archaeology over the past decade
have alternated between Europe and North
America.
Skewed Nature of International
Conferences on African
Archaeology (Cont).
 1986-Poznan(Poland).
 1988-Syracuse(USA).
 2000-Cambridge(UK).
 2002-Tucson(USA).
 2004-Bergen(Norway).
 2006-Calgary(Canada).
 2008-Frankfurt(Germany).
Skewed Nature of International
Conferences on African
Archaeology (Cont).
 ‘Strong’ voices in SAFA claim that ‘sponsors’
will not support their attendance outside
North America and Europe.
 Fear the capacity of Africans to organize
something at the level of a SAFA Conference.
 It will be more ‘helpful’ to ‘support’ African
participation in SAFA conferences outside the
continent.
Skewed Nature of International
Conferences on African
Archaeology (Cont)
 The Pan African Congress though with a unique
‘African history’ is also skewed as SAFA.
 Nairobi- 1947.
 Algiers- 1952.
 Livingstone-1955.
 Leopoldville-1959.
 Tenerife-1963.
 Dakar-1967.
 Addis Ababa-1971.
 Nairobi-1977.
 Jos 1983.
Skewed Nature of International
Conferences on African
Archaeology (Cont)
 Given the fact that the Jos conference
was dominated by Africans, (the
conference had about 25 Europeans) its
main resolution on Apartheid SA was
rejected by the likes of Desmond Clark.
 Using falsehood (see Shaw 1989)he
urged and campaigned that the
resolution be ignored.
Council of Europe on African
Archaeology.
 1985 the Council of Europe in collaboration with 11
other European Universities conducted a course in
Brussels at the end of which they gave 30
participants an ‘International Certificate of African
Archaeology’.
 No student from Africa was funded to attend.
 No African university was invited to participate.
 These and other issues raise the question of the
Euro-American interest in African Archaeology.
African Archaeology
(Cont).
 While this interest can be argued to be ‘scholarly’
without more, in practice, it excludes Africans and
tends to project the Euro-American views of the
African past over and above those of Africans.
 Its agenda and focus may also at times be doubtful.
 This becomes an important challenge which we must
face squarely if we are to reclaim our right to be on
top of our past using archaeology to empower and
impact development.
Why Africa must reclaim
the right to write her past.
 Others can never do it well enough.
 There is empirical evidence that African
past has been distorted and ‘relocated’ for
effect.
 How many know for example:
 that Imhotep an African, is the father of
medicine and a designer of the Egyptian
pyramids.
 Ahmes an African, is the first author of a
mathematics text book in the world.
Why Africa must reclaim
the right to write her past
(Cont).
 Setimus Severus who was once a Roman
Emperor was African.
 Beethoven was of African descent.
 Alexandr Sergeyevich Pushkin, Russia’
‘National Poet’, the ‘patriarch of Russian
Literature’ and the ‘Father of Russian
language’ was of African descent (see
Emeagwali, www.Africanexecutive.com;
and the works of Isaac Asimov)
The Open Access Option.
 Open Access publishing is publishing that is
available to all potential users without barriers.
 At the moment, there are about 12,000 Open
Access journals, mostly in Sciences, 12 in
Archaeology and non in African Archaeology.
 This is a window of opportunity in African
Archaeology.
Advantages of the Open
Access Option.
 Though criticized by the traditional
publishing lobby in Europe and
North America, Open Access has
unique advantages like-
 Authors are more read, cited and
their ideas better integrated.
 Scholars at institutions which would
have otherwise found it difficult to
access the works are able to do it.
Advantages of the Open
Access Option (Cont).
 Accessible at small institutions where
the library is too poor to acquire the
hardcopy.
 Accessible to the general public.
 Accessible to the taxpayer who has the
opportunity to see the results of the
research he is paying for.
 The only ‘barrier’ is access to the
internet.
The ‘Susan Model’.
 At the 2006 SAFA Conference (Calgary), Prof. Susan
McIntosh had argued for a Wikipedia type of Open
Access publishing in which scholars in African
Archaeology will pool their expertise and create
knowledge that will be openly accessible to all.
 African national and regional archaeological bodies and
networks must take this suggestion seriously so as to
begin to project our perspectives and strengthen our
voice (which is threatened) on the world stage.
 These bodies must also take urgent steps to improve
the quality of local archeological publications following
the example of the African Archaeological Network.
Conclusion.
 Archaeology is about culture, identity and
development.
 It is inappropriate for a people to cede the
study of their past to ‘outsiders’. It is even
more inappropriate for ‘outsiders’ to study the
past of others through exclusion.
 It is imperative for Africans to articulate their
voice on the world stage by rethinking current
dissemination models in archaeology.
 There is opportunity in the use of technology in
this rethinking process.