Advertisement

African Archaeological Review

, Volume 24, Issue 3–4, pp 49–71 | Cite as

Preserving Knowledge, not Objects: A Somali Perspective for Heritage Management and Archaeological Research

  • Sada Mire
Original Article

Abstract

This article argues that the Somali people have a distinctive view on heritage and a different approach to its preservation relevant to their society. It suggests that a locally appropriate theoretical framework for heritage management and archaeological research can only be achieved if this local approach is taken into consideration and integrated into archaeological and heritage methodologies. The lack of qualified Somalis and indigenous perspectives in the archaeological research and heritage management policies characterizes Somali cultural heritage and archaeological research history. This research shows that previous approaches that have been pursued lacked dialogue and incorporation of local views of heritage practice. This lack of dialogue has been of paramount importance for the failure of the preservation of Somali cultural heritage, evident both in the previous neglect of its preservation and in the current looting and destruction of archaeological sites in Somaliland, Puntland and south-central Somalia. It is demonstrated how Somali indigenous perspectives are concurring and contributing to world heritage management and archaeological research methods. I suggest that any heritage work must integrate local approaches and trained local groups should lead archaeological research and heritage management in order to achieve sustainable development and self-representation.

Keywords

Knowledge Somali Heritage Archaeology 

Résumé

Cet article traite de l’opinion particulière du patrimoine et d’une approche différente de son maintien par rapport à leur société qu’ont les Somaliens. Il propose qu’une structure théorique locale appropriée pour la gestion du patrimoine et pour la recherche archéologique ne puisse être mise en place que si cette approche locale est prise en considération et intégrée dans les méthodologies archéologiques et patrimoniales. Le manque de Somaliens qualifiés et les points de vue indigènes dans la recherche archéologique et dans les politiques de gestion du patrimoine caractérise le patrimoine culturel Somalien et l’histoire de la recherche archéologique. Cette recherche montre que les approches précédentes qui ont été menées manquaient de dialogue et de prise en compte des points de vue locaux de la coutume du patrimoine. Ce manque de dialogue a été d’une importance primordiale dans l’échec de la préservation du patrimoine culturel Somalien, ceci est évident à la fois dans l’absence de préservation, dans le pillage actuel et dans la destruction des sites archéologiques de Somaliland, Puntland et de la Somalie centrale du sud. Il est démontré comment les points de vue indigènes concourent et contribuent aux méthodes de gestion du patrimoine mondial et à la recherche archéologique. Je suggère que chaque travail sur le patrimoine intègre des approches locales et que des groupes locaux formés pilotent la recherche archéologique et la gestion du patrimoine de manière à atteindre un développement durable et une représentation autonome.

Notes

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank people who have provided me with images and insightful comments in the process leading to this article: Ugaso Kahin Bulhan, Johan Franzén, Prof. Fekri A. Hassan, Natasha Kusemamuriwo, Sohur Mire, Mohamed A. Mohamed, Prof. Merrick Posnansky, Dr. Aloisia de Trafford and anonymous reviewers. I alone, needless to say, take full responsibility for all opinions expressed in this article.

References

  1. Abungu, A. (2001). Examples from Kenya and Somalia. In N. Brodie, J, Doole, & C. Renfrew (Eds.), Trade in illicit antiquities: The destruction of the world’s archaeological heritage. Cambridge: McDonald Institute Monographs.Google Scholar
  2. Agorsah, E. K. (1990). Ethnoarchaeology: The search for a self-corrective approach to the study of a past human behaviour. African Archaeological Review, 8, 189–208.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Andah, B. W. (1995). European encumbrances to the development of relevant theory in African archaeology. In P. J. Ucko (Ed.), Theory in archaeology: A world perspective. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  4. Andah, B. W. (1996). Studying African societies in cultural context. In P. R. Schmidt & T. C. Patterson (Eds.) Making alternative histories. The practice of archaeology and history in non-western settings. New Mexico: School of American Research Press.Google Scholar
  5. Andrzejevski, B. W. (1986). The literary culture of the Somali people. In K. Loughran, J. Loughran, J. Johnson, & S. Samatar (Eds.), Somalia in word and image. Washington, DC: Foundation for Cross Cultural Understanding/Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Arnoldi, M. J. (1986). The artistic heritage of Somalia. In K. Loughran, J. Loughran, J. Johnson, & S. Samatar (Eds.), Somalia in word and image. Washington, DC: Foundation for Cross Cultural Understanding/Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Brandt, S. A. (1992). The importance of Somalia for understanding African and world prehistory. In C. Greshekter & H. Adam (Ed.), Proceedings of the first international congress of Somali studies. Atlanta: Scholars Press.Google Scholar
  8. Brandt, S. A., & Fattovich, R. (1990). Late quarternary archaeological research in the Horn of Africa. In P. Robertshaw (Ed.), A history of African archaeology. London: James Currey.Google Scholar
  9. Brandt, S. A., & Mohamed, O. Y. (1996). Starting from scratch: The past, present, and future management of Somalia’s cultural heritage. In. P. R. Schmidt & R. J. McIntosh (Eds.), Plundering Africa’s past. Bllominhton, IN: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Caroselli, F. S. (1934). Il Museo Della Somalia. Rocco. S. Casciano. Stabilimento Tipografio L. Cappelli.Google Scholar
  11. Chittick, H. N. (1969). An archaeological reconnaissance of the southern Somali Coast. Azania, 4, 115–130.Google Scholar
  12. Chittick, H. N. (1975). An archaeological reconnaissance in the Horn: The British–Somali expedition. Azania, 11, 117–133.Google Scholar
  13. Clark, J. D. (1954). The prehistoric cultures of the Horn of Africa. Cambrigde: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Cleere, H. (2001). The uneasy bedfellows: Universality and cultural heritage. In R. Layton, P. G. Stone, & J. Thomas (Eds.), Destruction and conservation of cultural property. One World Archaeology Series 41.Google Scholar
  15. Curle, A. T. (1937). The ruined towns of Somaliland. Antiquity, 11, 315–327.Google Scholar
  16. Fullerton, A., & Adan, A. (1995). Handicraft of the Somali woman. In L. Prussin (Ed.), African nomadic architecture: Space, place and gender. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institute.Google Scholar
  17. Hassan, F. A. (2005). The safeguarding of tangible and intangible cultural heritage: Key concepts towards an integrated approach. In G. Bunkazai (Ed.), The cultural properties monthly journal. Japan: Dai Ichihouki.Google Scholar
  18. Hassan, F. A. (2007). Conserving Egyptian heritage: Seizing the moment. In R. Springborg, et al. (Eds.), 50 years since Suez. London: SOAS.Google Scholar
  19. Holtorf, C. J. (2001). Is the past a non-renewable resource? In R. Layton, P. G. Stone, & J. Thomas (Eds.), Destruction and conservation of cultural property. One World Archaeology Series 41.Google Scholar
  20. Hourani, G. F. (1995). Arab seafaring. Princeton: Princeton University Press (expanded and revisited edition by J. C. Carswell, with additional notes from H. Frost, M. Horton, D. King, G. King, P. Morgan, G. Scanlon and H. Wright).Google Scholar
  21. Jönsson, S. (1983). Archaeological research coorperation between Somalia and Sweden. Stockholm: Civiltryck.Google Scholar
  22. Kirby, V. G. (1993). Keeping up with the world? Global and national trends and directions in the definition and management of landscapes of cultural heritage significance. In Selsky, M and M. (Eds.), Environmental and resource management in New Zealand. University of Otago. Environmental policy and Management Research Centre. Public. no. 5.Google Scholar
  23. Labadi, S. (2005). A review of the global strategy for a balanced, representative and credible world heritage list 1994-2004. Conservation and Management of Archaeological Sites, 7, 89–102.Google Scholar
  24. Lewis, M. I. (1988). A modern history of Somalia: Nation and state in the Horn of Africa. Boulder: Westview.Google Scholar
  25. Lewis, M. I. (1993). Understanding Somalia: Guide to culture, history and social institutions. London: Haan.Google Scholar
  26. Little, P. D. (2003). Somalia: Economy without state. African issues. The International African Institute in association with Oxford: James Currey, Hargeisa, (Somaliland): Btec Books and N. America: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Loughran, K. Loughran, J. Johnson, J., & Samatar, S. (Eds.) (1986). Somalia in word and image. Washington, DC: Foundation for Cross Cultural Understanding.Google Scholar
  28. Lowenthal, D. (1985). The past is a foreign country. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Mapunda, B., & Msemwa, P. (2005). Introduction. In B. Mapunda & P. Msemwa (Eds.), Salvaging Tanzania’s cultural heritage. Dar Es Salaam: Dar Es Salaam University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Mire, S. (2003). Ayodhya-konflikten. Hur länge ska arkeologerna tillåta att den inomdisciplinära debatten tystas av politiska hänsynstaganden? META, 3, 34–48.Google Scholar
  31. Mire, S. (2005). The future of Somali archaeology: Rethinking cultural heritage. Unpublished BA dissertation, the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, 2005.Google Scholar
  32. Mire, S. (2006). Shield (Gaashaan). In. K. Lagat & J. Hudson (Eds.), Hazina: traditions, trade and transitions in eastern Africa. Nairobi: National Museums of Kenya.Google Scholar
  33. Pikirayi, I. (2005). The state of cultural heritage in Zimbabwe: An overview. In B. Mapunda & P. Msemwa (Eds.), Salvaging Tanzania’s cultural heritage. Dar Es Salaam: Dar Es Salaam University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Phillipson, D. (1989). Editorial: The ethnographic present is past. African Archaeological Review, 7, 1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Posnansky, M. (1979). Museum and antiquities development. Serial no. FRM/CC/CH/79/129. Paris: UNESCO.Google Scholar
  36. Samatar, S. S. (1986). Somali verbal and material arts. In K. Loughran, J. Loughran, J. Johnson, & S. Samatar (Eds.), Somalia in word and image. Washington, DC: Foundation for Cross Cultural Understanding. USA: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  37. Saton-Karr, W. H. (1896). Discovery of evidence of paleolithic stone age in Somaliland. Journal of Royal Anthropological Institute, 25, 106–107.Google Scholar
  38. Smith, M. C., & Wright, H. W. (1988). The ceramics of from Ras Hafun in Somalia. Notes on a Classical Site. Azania, 23, 115–141.Google Scholar
  39. Taruvinga, P., & Ndoro, W. (2003). The vandalism of the Domboshava rock painting site, Zimbabwe: some reflections on the approaches to heritage management. Conservation and Management of Archaeological Sites, 6, 3–10.Google Scholar
  40. UNESCO. http://www.UNESCO.org [16/12/2005].
  41. UNESCO (2005). Article 11 of the Convention. http://whc.Unesco.org/pg.cfm?CID=182#Article11.4 [18/04/2005].
  42. UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage. http://www.unesco.org/culture/ich_convention/index.php?pg=00022 [09/11/2006].
  43. Vitelli, K. D. (Ed.) (1996). Archaeological ethics. Walnut Creek-London-Delhi-New York: Alta-Mira.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of ArchaeologyUniversity College LondonLondonUK

Personalised recommendations