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'They are all dead that i could ask': Indigenous Innovation and the Micropolitics of the Field in Twentieth-century Southern Africa

King, R; Bonneau, A; Pearce, D; (2021) 'They are all dead that i could ask': Indigenous Innovation and the Micropolitics of the Field in Twentieth-century Southern Africa. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 10.1017/S0959774321000378. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

Recovering the agency, skill and innovation of archaeological field assistants from historical encounters is essential to interrogating processes of knowledge production, but is often hampered by access to appropriate archival sources and methods. We detail a field project from early twentieth-century Basutoland (modern-day Lesotho) that is unique both for its aim to salvage details of rock-art production as a dying craft and for its archive chronicling the project's intellectual journey from experiment to draft manuscripts to published work over more than three decades. We argue that critical historiographic attention to this archive offers a guide for examining the intimate dynamics of fieldwork and the effects of these micropolitics on the archaeological canon. We demonstrate how sustained attention to long processes of knowledge production can pinpoint multiple instances in which the usability of field assistants' scientific knowledge is qualified, validated, or rejected, and in this case how an African assistant is transformed into an ethnographic interlocutor. For rock-art studies especially, this represents a need for interrogating the epistemic cultures - not just the content - of foundational historical data.

Type: Article
Title: 'They are all dead that i could ask': Indigenous Innovation and the Micropolitics of the Field in Twentieth-century Southern Africa
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1017/S0959774321000378
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0959774321000378
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology > Institute of Archaeology Gordon Square
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10131231
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