The Challenges and Potentials of Archaeological Heritage in Africa—Cape Verdean Reflections

  • Marie Louise Stig SørensenEmail author
  • Christopher Evans
Original Article


This paper considers three different ways that heritage can be considered fragile—as a reference to the conservation status of the physical heritage, as a concern for the meaning of the heritage, and in terms of threats to the knowledge potentials. It also briefly considers any special conditions that may characterise the threats to heritage in Africa and the consequential challenges to its heritage managers and politicians. On this basis, the experiences of working on one of the first systematic archaeological projects in Cape Verde are used to think about how these challenges are encountered within a specific place but from the viewpoint of foreigners and archaeologists.


Heritage Africa Cape Verde UNESCO Archaeology 


Cet article envisage trois aspects différents sous lesquels un patrimoine peut être considéré comme fragile: tout d’abord en référence a sa vulnérabilité physique, puis a la fragilité de sa valorisation en tant que patrimoine et finalement dans le sens des menaces posées aux connaissances potentielles qu’il représente. Il examine également brièvement les conditions particulières régnant en Afrique pouvant représenter des menaces pour la conservation du patrimoine et les défis qui en résultent pour les responsables politiques et les gestionnaires du patrimoine. A partir de cette base et de l’expérience gagnée en travaillant à l’un des premiers chantiers archéologiques systématiques au Cap Vert, nous engageons une réflexion sur la manière dont ces difficultés ont été surmontées dans un environnement particulier mais du point de vue d’étrangers et d’archéologues.



We would like to thank Konstantin Richter for first introducing us to the archaeology of Cidade Velha and for our many discussions as partners in the ongoing archaeological exploration of Cidade Velha. The fieldwork represents a partnership between the Department of Archaeology (University of Cambridge) and the Ministério da Cultura of the República de Cabo Verde, and we would like to acknowledge this collaboration and the participation in the fieldwork of our colleagues from the Ministry and the Museum; this has been much appreciated. In particular, we would like to thank Dr. Carlos Alberto de Carvalho and Hamilton Jair Fernandes for generously sharing their knowledge about the village and their plans for its heritage throughout our collaboration. We would like to acknowledge the support from The Society of Antiquaries (London) and the McDonald Institute (University of Cambridge); without their support, the fieldwork could not have been carried out. Marie Louise would, in addition, like to acknowledge many discussions about indigenous archaeology and community archaeology with Susan Keitumetse, Donna Yates and Domenic Walker in connection with their research in Botswana, Bolivia and Wales, respectively.


  1. Alexander, J. (2011). Saving the African heritage is a global priority: how can a new sub-discipline of rescue archaeology aid it? African Archaeological Review, 28. doi: 10.1007/s10437-011-9093-5.
  2. Brásio, A. (1952). Monumenta Missionária Africana—Àfrica Ocidental. 2.ª série, Vol. I, II, III, IV, VII. Lisboa: Agência Geral do Ultramar.Google Scholar
  3. Conac, G. (Ed.). (1980). Dynamiques et finalités des droits africains. Paris: Economica.Google Scholar
  4. Darwin, C. R. (1839). Narrative of the surveying voyages of His Majesty’s ships adventure and Beagle between the years 1826 and 1836, describing their examination of the southern shores of South America, and the Beagle’s circumnavigation of the globe. London: Henry Colburn. Journal and remarks. 1832–1836.Google Scholar
  5. DeMerode, E., Semmets, R., & Westrik, C. (2003). Linking universal and local values: managing a sustainable future for world heritage. World Heritage Paper 13. Paris: UNESCO World Heritage Centre.Google Scholar
  6. Eboreime, J. (2009). Challenges of heritage management in Africa. In W. Ndoro, A. Mumma, & G. Abungu (Eds.), Cultural heritage and the law: Protecting immovable heritage in English-speaking countries of sub-Saharan Africa (pp. 1–5). Rome: ICCROM.Google Scholar
  7. Evans, C., Sørensen, M. L. S., & Richter, K. (forthcoming). Excavation of one of the earliest Christian churches in the tropics: N.ª S.ª da Conceição, Cidade Velha, Cape Verde. In T. Green & J. Lingna Nafafé (Eds.), Brokers of change: Atlantic commerce and cultures in pre-colonial Guinea of Cape Verde. London: British Academy.Google Scholar
  8. Keitumetse, S. (2007). Celebrating or marketing the indigenous? International rights organisations, national governments and tourism creation. In P. M. Burns & M. Novelli (Eds.), Global frameworks and local realities (pp. 109–122). Oxford: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  9. Keitumetse, S. (2009). Methods for investigating locals’ perceptions of a cultural heritage product for tourism: lessons from Botswana. In M. L. S. Sørensen & J. Carman (Eds.), Heritage studies: methods and approaches (pp. 201–216). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  10. Keitumetse, S. (2011). Sustainable development and cultural heritage management in Botswana: Towards sustainable communities. Sustainable Development, 19, 49–59. doi: 10.1002/sd.419.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Kurin, R. (2007). Safeguarding intangible cultural heritage: Key factors in implementing the 2003 Convention. International Journal of Intangible Heritage, 2, 10–20.Google Scholar
  12. Little, B. J. (2009). Public archaeology in the United States in the early twenty-first century. In M. L. S. Sørensen & J. Carman (Eds.), Heritage studies. Methods and approaches (pp. 29–52). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  13. McManamon, F. P. (1991). The many publics for archaeology. American Antiquity, 56, 121–130.Google Scholar
  14. Merriman, N. (2004). Public archaeology. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  15. Ndoro, W. (2001). Your monument our shrine. Uppsala: Dept. of Archaeology, Uppsala University.Google Scholar
  16. Ndoro, W., & Pwiti, G. (2001). Heritage management in southern Africa. Local, national and international discourse. Public Archaeology, 2, 21–34.Google Scholar
  17. Négri, V. (2009). Introduction to heritage law in Africa. In W. Ndoro, A. Mumma, & G. Abungu (Eds.), Cultural heritage and the law: Protecting immovable heritage in English-speaking countries of sub-Saharan Africa (pp. 7–12). Rome: ICCROM.Google Scholar
  18. Sarmento, J. (2009). A sweet and amnesic present: The postcolonial landscape and memory makings in Cape Verde. Social & Cultural Geography, 10(5), 523–544.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Shackel, P. A., & Chambers, E. J. (Eds.). (2004). Places in mind: Public archaeology as applied anthropology. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  20. Schramm, K. (2007). Slave route projects: Tracing the heritage of slavery in Ghana. In F. de Jong & M. Rowlands (Eds.), Reclaiming heritage. Alternative imaginaries of memory in West Africa (pp. 71–98). Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press.Google Scholar
  21. Smith, L. (2006). The uses of heritage. Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  22. Smith, L., & Waterton, E. (2009). Heritage, communities and archaeology. London: Duckworth.Google Scholar
  23. Sørensen, M. L. S. (2007). What does sustainability have to do with it? Reflections upon heritage language and the heritage of slavery and missionaries. In R. White & J. Carman (Eds.), World heritage: Global challenges, local solutions. B.A.R. International Series 1698 (pp. 75–79). Oxford: Archaeopress.Google Scholar
  24. Sørensen, M. L. S., Evans, C., & Richter, K. (2011). A place of history: Archaeology and heritage at Cidade Velha, Cape Verde. In P. Lane & K. MacDonald (Eds.), Comparative dimensions of slavery in Africa: Archaeology and memory. London: British Academy.Google Scholar
  25. Tunbridge, J. E., & Ashworth, G. J. (1996). Dissonant heritage: The management of the past as a resource in conflict. Chichester: Wiley.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marie Louise Stig Sørensen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Christopher Evans
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of ArchaeologyUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK
  2. 2.Cambridge Archaeological UnitUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK

Personalised recommendations