The past is a divided country: Transforming archaeology in South Africa

Ndukuyakhe Ndlovu, Benjamin Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This article examines the political and institutional dimensions of archaeological practice in South Africa during the apartheid era and since the transition to democratic rule in 1994. We focus on the archaeological practices within institutional structures—the universities, heritage agencies, and museums. We examine the roles these institutions played in either perpetuating or challenging the disconnection between archaeological heritage and descendent communities prior to 1994, and whether the political changes that occurred since the end of apartheid have succeeded in creating an inclusive archaeological practice in South Africa. The Transformation Charter, adopted in 2008 by the Association of Southern African Professional Archaeologists (ASAPA), requires that all those working in the field of archaeology in South Africa practice a form of archaeology that is “rooted in social awareness and social engagement” and aims to be “socially responsible.” We examine the extent to which progress has been made towards achieving those objectives.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-192
Number of pages18
JournalAfrican Archaeological Review
Issue number2
Early online date20 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2019


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