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Report on the 24th Biannual Meeting of the Society of Africanist Archaeologists (SAfA), entitled: Building bridges to the African past

Toronto (Canada), 18-21 June 2019
Elena A. A. Garcea
p. 115-116

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1Over the past few decades, SAfA conferences have grown. SAfA meetings are intended to facilitate conversations that tackle the complex issues of cultural heritage management in Africa – examining dilemmas and their causes, and sharing opportunities, ideas and solutions. In total, 250 people registered for the conference, of which 84 were students.

2The Plenary Session explored “Dilemmas and Solutions in Cultural Heritage Management in Africa”. Five keynote speakers addressed provocative themes to consider fresh approaches to both old and new challenges. After the plenary session, five concurrent Panel Discussions encouraged free-flowing exchange of ideas on themes related to the plenary lectures:

  •  World Heritage, Tourism, and Economic Empowerment

  •  Archaeology, Cultural Heritage, and Conflict

  •  Community Engagement when the Past is Complicated

  •  Development-Driven Cultural Heritage Management

  •  Environmental and Cultural Heritage Conservation amidst Climate Change.

3Discussions between plenary speakers, panelists, and audience members aimed at spreading innovative ideas and to stronger collaborative efforts in heritage management.

4SAfA 2018 had 25 symposia covering many Pan-African, regional/local, and methodological themes. The symposia included the following topics:

  •  Boundaries and blurred lines: technological change and behavioural evolution in the African Plio-Pleistocene

  •  Integrated archaeological and paleoenvironmental records

  •  Life by the water: stone age archaeology along African coasts, lakeshores, and rivers

  •  Moving beyond ‘mosaics’: building high resolution models for the spread of food production in Africa

  •  Monumentalities in Africa: diverse forms, contexts, and designs

  •  Rethinking the place of ‘global’ commodities in the African past: towards a continental dialogue

  •  African cities across time and space

  •  Rethinking the practice of historical archaeology in Africa

  •  Relational ontologies meet African archaeology: questioning the nature of nature and being a being in the past

  •  Connecting past and present: oral traditions, landscapes, and community archaeology

  •  Archaeology of the Oyo empire: metropolitan and regional perspectives

  •  New light on Nigeria’s past: reassessing past discoveries and renewing approaches in the archaeology of Nigeria

  •  Archaeological research in the ancient Kongo kingdom’s capital and in its northern provinces: the combined results

  •  Egypt and the wider world

  •  Late Quaternary hunter-gatherer stone artifact technological variability in northern and eastern Africa

  •  Land-cover and land-use in Holocene Africa: integrating diverse data for past and future projections

  •  The Pleistocene and Holocene archaeological records from the interior of southern Africa

  •  Archaeometallurgy, societies and evolution in Africa: methodology, chronology and technical traditions

  •  African archaeology & genetics: moving from multidisciplinary to interdisciplinary

  •  Beyond words and things : archaeology and historical linguistics

  •  Archaeometry in the service of African archaeology

  •  Old problems, new perspectives: technologies, methodologies and techniques

  •  The ethnoarchaeology of craft, technology, trade, and social networks

  •  Recent developments in the archaeology & ethnoarchaeology of ceramics in Africa

  •  New developments in the application of digital technology in the archaeology of Africa.

5As usual, SAfA funded student travel scholarships. This year 11 students, not base in North America, were fundedto attend the conference.

6The new board was elected at the General Assembly. The next meeting will be held in 2020 in Oxford (UK).

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Elena A. A. Garcea, « Report on the 24th Biannual Meeting of the Society of Africanist Archaeologists (SAfA), entitled: Building bridges to the African past », Afrique : Archéologie & Arts, 14 | 2018, 115-116.

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Elena A. A. Garcea, « Report on the 24th Biannual Meeting of the Society of Africanist Archaeologists (SAfA), entitled: Building bridges to the African past », Afrique : Archéologie & Arts [En ligne], 14 | 2018, mis en ligne le 15 décembre 2018, consulté le 17 septembre 2019. URL :

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Elena A. A. Garcea – Università di Cassino e del Lazio meridionale, Dipartimento di Lettere e Filosofia, via Zamosch, 43, 03043 Cassino (FR), Italy

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