Why " Conserve " ? S

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperChapter


The language of archaeological “conservation” is often passive, officious, and removed from conditions on the ground. The fundamental question—why conserve?—is seldom asked. Yet it is often assumed a priori that conservation is both necessary and beneficial. In the reflexive spirit of regularly questioning accepted practices, this paper situates “conservation” at three southern African rock art sites. These sites help to foreground indigenous notions of materiality and history that both embrace and eschew curatorial intervention. They also
speak of imperial, colonial, and apartheid pasts that carry their burdens into the present. Finally, restoring to prominence the role of the present, along with conservation’s benefits to the past and the future, offers multiple temporal, spatial, and cultural perspectives that situate conservation as a set of negotiated,
evolving practices.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOf the past, for the future
Subtitle of host publication Integrating archaeology and conservation
EditorsJanet Bridgeland, Neville Agnew
Place of PublicationLos Angeles
PublisherThe Getty Conservation Institute
Number of pages6
ISBN (Print)0892368268
Publication statusPublished - 2006

Publication series

NameProceedings of the conservation theme at the 5th World Archaeological Congress, Washington, D.C., 22-26 June 2003

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