Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS: http://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos.439163
Title: Towards an applied archaeology of East African intensive agricultural systems
Author: Stump, Daryl Andrew
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2006
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Abstract:
This study questions whether archaeological techniques and perspectives can be applied to aid in the assessment of rural development practices in Africa, and is a response to a gradual paradigm shift that rejects large-scale, top-down modernisation programmes in favour of small-scale projects that are managed locally and employ 'indigenous' systems of knowledge. In Africa, as in other parts of the developing world, the projects that have adopted this alternative approach have tended to focus on rural economies and have drawn upon recent research that has emphasised the unique contexts of individual communities' approaches to resource exploitation, and which have demonstrated the ability of many societies to maintain modes of economy that various western derived models would expect to be unsustainable. Although these studies have originated from a variety of disciplinary standpoints and have, in general, stressed the need for a multidisciplinary approach, archaeological data is rarely employed. Superficially, however, the case for an archaeological contribution seems self-evident, since any appraisal of sustainability clearly requires an assessment of how long a particular agronomy has been in operation, and whether or not the practices that have sustained it have changed through time. The current study explores the implications of increased archaeological involvement in this area of research by questioning whether an 'applied archaeology' of African agriculture would be theoretically desirable and pragmatically feasible. The question of desirability includes a discussion of the inevitable political implications of contributing to contemporary developmental debates, but focuses primarily on the more overtly theoretical issue of inter-epistemological translation: arguing for a return to the level of relativism espoused by early post-processualism, and adopting a shift in emphasis that incorporates the construction of plausible pasts alongside a functional approach that may offer insights of value to contemporary communities. In order to assess the feasibility of an archaeological contribution, this paper presents the findings of recent fieldwork at the late precolonial site of Engaruka, in north-eastern Tanzania. These results show that the system of terraces and irrigation features formerly employed at the site were completely integrated to produce a unique and sophisticated response to the problems of farming in this area, and demonstrate that relatively simple, and readily taught, archaeological techniques have the potential to model precisely the development and expansion of agricultural systems, and can do so over a longer period than the methods available to other disciplines. The thesis concludes, therefore, that there is a real need for a truly interdisciplinary approach to this area of study, and that such an approach should include an archaeological component.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.439163  DOI: Not available
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