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The Politics of Heritage in Africa
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Book description

Heritage work has had a uniquely wide currency in Africa's politics. Secure within the pages of books, encoded in legal statutes, encased in glass display cases and enacted in the panoply of court ritual, the artefacts produced by the heritage domain have become a resource for government administration, a library for traditionalists and a marketable source of value for cultural entrepreneurs. The Politics of Heritage in Africa draws together disparate fields of study - history, archaeology, linguistics, the performing arts and cinema - to show how the lifeways of the past were made into capital, a store of authentic knowledge that political and cultural entrepreneurs could draw from. This book shows African heritage to be a mode of political organisation, a means by which the relics of the past are shored up, reconstructed and revalued as commodities, as tradition, as morality or as patrimony.


'Precisely on the basis of the great variety of case studies presented, the volume attests to the complexity of any form of heritage politics. The ways in which such politics articulate the past with often direct present-day concerns goes well beyond the 'mere' problematic of the colonial archive. Yet even more, heritage politics is situated at the crossroads of fierce identity politics, nation-building, and commercialisation, and it speaks to memories of suffering and struggle often in terms that seem wanting to those who have lived through them. The present collection provides thought-provoking and fascinating perspectives that advance these concerns.'

Reinhart Kößler Source: Africa Spectrum

'The range of case studies will interest readers with particular specialisms as well as those with a broader interest in heritage, while Peterson’s introduction is likely to become the key text for students approaching the topic.'

Sarah Longair Source: African Research and Documentation

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