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Title: The Igbo 'village square', heritage and museum discourse : an ethnographic investigation
Author: Ugwuanyi, John Kelechi
ISNI:       0000 0004 8497 504X
Awarding Body: University of York
Current Institution: University of York
Date of Award: 2019
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Cultural heritage and associated discourses of preservation have become forces of global concern through international agencies such as UNESCO. This is especially true in Anglophone West Africa particularly Nigeria, where discourses of heritage are negotiated locally in relation to existing belief and value systems. This thesis explores this negotiation in the context of the Igbo village arena (or square) found at the heart of all Igbo villages. It examines the ontologies and epistemologies of 'Authorised Heritage Discuss' (AHD) and indigenous heritage conservation models in Nigeria focusing on inclusion and exclusion. The thesis further interrogates the interface between such indigenous models and global heritage discourses and practices. It uses ethnographic method that allowed a bottom-up enquiry with power-sharing possibilities. The thesis found that other than having binaries in heritage conservation and management methods in Nigeria, there are conflicts around the knowledge domain. It shows that the divisions are products of power and discourse which are philosophical and political; philosophical because of the conceptual differences, and political because of the spatial representations and national ideology. Further to the findings is the fact that AHD uses the 'static perfection' approach to conservation against the people's psychological make up that favour unbroken continuity. The thesis also found a new way of seeing the indigenous/local community as a constituent of human and nonhuman 'beings'. Consequently, it recognises that heritage has a 'life' and lives in the same community with humans and other 'beings'. Acknowledging the announcement of a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene and the new quests for finding alternative heritage conservation design that aligns with the ethical requirements of the time, the thesis suggests the in-use conservation paradigm. Arguments put forward to support in-use method emanates from what was found among the Igbo, the fact that heritage passes through the same life cycle of birth, living, death (that includes decay and decomposition) and re-birth, which AHD either denies or delays. The principles of in-use conservation approach encourage intensive and effective care for heritage in their living community to elongate and sustain the 'utilitarian values' of heritage envisioned in its 'birthing or production mission'. By so doing, the thesis concludes that heritage would make its contributions towards solving problems of the Anthropocene, one of which is climate change that threatens the lives of all 'beings' in the universe. It strongly argues that thinking about heritage in this sense would help us make informed decisions for the future of heritage in the Anthropocene.
Supervisor: Schofield, John Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available