Academic journal article African Research & Documentation

Reclaiming Heritage: Alternative Imaginaries of Memory in West Africa

Academic journal article African Research & Documentation

Reclaiming Heritage: Alternative Imaginaries of Memory in West Africa

Article excerpt

Reclaiming Heritage: alternative imaginaries of memory in West Africa; edited by Ferdinand de Jong and Michael Rowlands. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press, 2007. 270 pp. ISBN 978-1-59874-307-4. £34.99

This book had its origins in a panel on Memory and the Public Sphere at the first Aegis Conference held at SOAS in July 2005. It forms the second volume in a new 'Critical Perspectives on Cultural Heritage' series. The series editor's foreword quotes Derrida and is somewhat impenetrable but in one of the more intelligible sentences claims that the series is "intended to provide the intellectual impetus and critical framework by which cultural heritage discourse can undergo a process of radical reflection and fundamental reconceptualisation and engage in a subsequent reconstruction of its core heritage values, practices and ethics."

De Jong and Rowlands pick up this theme, writing in their acknowledgments "This book examines current heritage practices in West Africa and discusses how they allow us to conceptualise heritage in a new way, The volume suggests a decolonisation of heritage through an examination of postcolonial practices." The editors set the tone with a first chapter on 'Reconsidering Heritage and Memory'. This outlines ideas that cluster round these concepts (such as the 'postcolonial memory crisis') and survey the literature. …

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