Falling Walls and Mending Fences: Archaeological Ethnography in the Limpopo

The author defines archaeological ethnography as a holistic anthropology that is improvisational, context-dependent and reflective of the desire for postcolonial field strategies to embrace a new politics of decolonized methodologies. It can encompass a mosaic of traditional disciplinary forms including archaeological practice, museum or representational analysis, studies of heritage, as well as long-term involvement, participant observation, interviewing and archival work. In her own work in Kruger National Park (South Africa), the author employed a suite of these techniques. She carried out two field projects – a technically-geared archaeology project, and an ethnographic scheme – that involve the Iron Age site of Thulamela in the north of Kruger near the Limpopo River. An outline of this research leads into a discussion of the wider impacts of heritage work in terms of local identities and tensions and suggests that recognition and reparations around such contested landscapes continue to be fraught, despite protean political rhetoric and regime change. Ref., sum. [ASC Leiden abstract]

Title: Falling Walls and Mending Fences: Archaeological Ethnography in the Limpopo
Author: Meskell, Lynn
Year: 2007
Periodical: Journal of Southern African Studies
Volume: 33
Issue: 2
Period: June
Pages: 383-400
Language: English
Geographic term: South Africa
External link: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/03057070701292657
Abstract: The author defines archaeological ethnography as a holistic anthropology that is improvisational, context-dependent and reflective of the desire for postcolonial field strategies to embrace a new politics of decolonized methodologies. It can encompass a mosaic of traditional disciplinary forms including archaeological practice, museum or representational analysis, studies of heritage, as well as long-term involvement, participant observation, interviewing and archival work. In her own work in Kruger National Park (South Africa), the author employed a suite of these techniques. She carried out two field projects – a technically-geared archaeology project, and an ethnographic scheme – that involve the Iron Age site of Thulamela in the north of Kruger near the Limpopo River. An outline of this research leads into a discussion of the wider impacts of heritage work in terms of local identities and tensions and suggests that recognition and reparations around such contested landscapes continue to be fraught, despite protean political rhetoric and regime change. Ref., sum. [ASC Leiden abstract]