Development-led archaeology and ethics in Lesotho

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Development-led archaeology and ethics in Lesotho

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Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa


King, Rachel and Arthur, Charles

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Taylor & Francis Online




Themed Issue: The ethics of archaeological practice in Africa

Abstract: In 2008 the Metolong Cultural Resource Management (MCRM) Project embarked upon an ambitious four-year programme that coupled heritage mitigation with capacity building for heritage management in Lesotho. Ahead of western Lesotho's Metolong Dam, a corps of ten Basotho was trained in archaeological field skills and participated in archaeological and anthropological mitigation operations supervised by a team from the University of Oxford. While the MCRM Project's training programme was a success, the Project has recently come to an end and employment opportunities for trainees have not emerged. Infrastructure for heritage management in Lesotho remains under-resourced and there is little indication that future large-scale development projects will promote capacity building in that area. The consequences of this state of affairs will include not only an industrial deficit, but also an impoverishment of workable conceptions of heritage produced by Basotho communities and particular to development in Lesotho. This paper discusses the ethical crossroads at which we find ourselves when capacity building programmes end without producing employment opportunities or enhanced heritage management infrastructure. We explore possible future directions for independent trainee-led co-operatives, regional accreditation and codes of practice for trainees and the devolution of responsibility for ensuring adequate standards of heritage management.

Additional tags: African archaeology; Lesotho; cultural resource management; employment; heritage management; archaeological training; development


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