May 24, 2024
Launch of the “Archaeology in Senegal” Exhibit- The Cultural Engineering and Anthropology Research Unit (URICA) of Cheikh Anta Diop University wants to democratize archaeology
– By Godswill Odiong

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Starting on February 3rd, 2022, the Cultural Engineering and Anthropology Research Unit (URICA) (https://URICA.org/) of Cheikh Anta Diop University will present a major banner exhibition, Archaeology in Senegal (https://bit.ly/32SSwJA), which highlights the significance of archaeology in Senegal’s historical and cultural understanding.

The West African Research Center (WARC) is hosting the nine-banner exhibition – the first of its kind in Senegal – that highlights how archaeology serves as a bridge between the past and the present. The exhibition explains how material culture contributes to understanding the values, experiences and complexity of Senegal’s past. It explores several of Senegal’s many locations for archaeological discovery and brings to life some of Senegal’s most important archaeological treasures.

Archaeology in Senegal is the result of a partnership between URICA, the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) Office of Strategic Partnerships and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), with support from the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research.

The bilingual French and Wolof banners are described by Dr. Ibrahima Thiaw, Professor of Archaeology at Cheikh Anta Diop University and Director of the Cultural Engineering and Anthropology Research Unit “as a major step in democratizing archaeology.” He added, “We are committed to helping Senegalese students and teachers see archaeology in practice, this banner exhibition helps to connect Senegalese children to their history in a visually appealing and easily accessible way.”

Dr. Ibrahima Thiaw has been at the forefront of efforts to build the first Anthropology doctoral program in Senegal. The Office of Strategic Partnerships has supported the program by providing resources to successfully digitize historical records, support cataloging and collections management and train graduate students in underwater archaeology as participating researchers in the NMAAHC-led Slave Wrecks Project. Dr. Deborah Mack, NMAAHC Associate Director for Strategic Partnerships said “The URICA doctoral program is exemplary in its 21st century scholarship and academic rigor that is coupled with public service to its communities and to the nation. This multi-year partnership between our institutions has produced measurable and tangible results, and we are delighted to continue this collaboration in expanded ways.”

Archaeology in Senegal has also partnered with the Senegalese children’s museum, ImagiNation Afrika which works toward the development of the whole child by creating child-centered public spaces. ImagiNation Afrika has facilitated a series of training workshops and developed instructional videos for teachers and curriculum inspectors from the Senegalese public school system. The collateral developed by ImagiNation Afrika is designed to help educators engage young learners in their understanding and appreciation of archaeology in Senegal.

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