This volume owes its origin to an exchange of correspondence between, and subsequent meetings among, the editors in 1996-8, culminating in our decision to jointly organize a session for the fourth World Archaeological Congress in Cape Town, South Africa, in January 1999. For a subject that is by definition global, and which impacts upon contemporary society in many contrasting ways, it seemed to us that the worldwide scope that the WAC provides was uniquely placed to present these issues and debate them in a way never previously attempted or envisaged. Furthermore it seemed wholly appropriate that, for a debate on conflict, repression, human suffering and hope, Cape Town could not be bettered as a venue. Indeed, during the course of the conference we (the editors, along with numerous of the contributors to our session) visited the townships outside Cape Town and District Six, from which some of their inhabitants moved in the 1960s; some of us also visited Robben Island. These visits fuelled our determination to secure contributions on these places for the volume, and to extend its scope from one exclusively on military conflict to embrace a wider definition of matériel culture.
The session ('Matériel culture: international perspectives on military remains') came towards the end of the conference and was well attended, including representatives from countries and contexts for which the subject matter is particularly close. We had hoped this would happen but were nonetheless surprised when it did. The timing also gave us the opportunity to attend various other sessions beforehand, which contained contributions touching on related issues: memories of a workshop entitled 'Healing the Social Wounds of War' remain with us still, for the emotional charge that it generated amongst speakers and audience alike. The intimacy and emotion evident in that session came too late to influence our own, but determined the balance of contributions we wished to achieve in producing this subsequent volume.
Of the chapters in the book, those by Anderton, Beck, Beech, Carman, Christiansen, Jarman, Johnson, Kauppi, N. Saunders, Schofield and Whorton began as presentations for our session at the conference and all were available on the WAC-4 website as pre-circulated papers. The chapters by Clark, Crossland, Gojak and Malan and Soudien owe their existence to contributions given in other