“Africa is various,” writes Kwame Anthony Appiah in defiance of the Eurocentric myth of a unitary and unchanging continent. The politics of archaeology in Africa has been no less marked by variety. Yet, underlying this multiplicity of historical experience are a number of common themes and ideas. This review traces the engagement between archaeology and politics in Africa through an exploration of these common themes: first, as a colonial science in the context of European conquest and the subjugation of African people and territories; second, in the context of colonial administration and the growth of settler populations; third, in the context of resistance to colonialism and a developing African nationalism; and fourth, in a postcolonial context, among whose challenges have been the growing illicit trade in antiquities originating in Africa, and (in the past two decades) the decline in direct funding for departments of archaeology in universities and museums.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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