Contract archaeology in South Africa: some ethical concerns

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Contract archaeology in South Africa: some ethical concerns

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Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa


Ndlovu, Ndukuyakhe

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Taylor & Francis Online




Themed Issue: The ethics of archaeological practice in Africa

Abstract: While contract archaeology has played a significant role in South Africa, a number of ethical concerns have become evident over the years. How enabling are the legal frameworks to contract archaeologists? Whose interest are contract archaeologists serving? How well do they consult affected parties in their work? How well do they communicate their findings, with their colleagues and the public at large? What, if any, has been the role of contract archaeologists in the transformation of South African archaeology? How effective is the current accreditation system run by the Association of Southern African Professional Archaeologists (ASAPA) for contract archaeology in ensuring that specialists operate within fields in which they are experienced? This paper addresses these concerns, focusing on the ethical elements relating to contract archaeology. The aim is to illustrate that while current legislation may have gone some way toward promoting the inclusion of previously excluded communities in the management of heritage resources membership of professional bodies by contract archaeologists still does not best enhance this. ASAPA's failure to ensure that all its members abide by its code of conduct is a cause for concern and it should take steps to improve this situation.

Additional tags: African archaeology; contract archaeology; South Africa; Southern African Professional Archaeologists (ASAPA); heritage legislation


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