Posted by: Matthew Davies | September 14, 2017

Major new publication on the African Farming Network

A major overview of the African Farming Research Network co-authored by the network members has recently been published in the conference proceedings of the 14th PanAfrican Archaeological Congress. The article summarises the nature and focus of the network and examines some of the research already conducted in each of the three network projects. It then goes on to examine some of the common themes and approaches for comparative analysis across the three projects. The article culminates with a call for further research of this pan-African comparative type and for the establishment of more effective pan-African training and skills/knowledge sharing.

The full conference volume can be downloaded for free here. 

The full citation for the paper and the abstract are pasted below

Davies, M.I.J., Folorunso, C.A., Kipruto, T.K., M’Mbogori, F.N., Moore, H.L., Orijemie, E.A. and Schoeman, A. 2017. The ‘useable’ archaeology of recent African farming systems: comparative and collaborative perspectives from East (Marakwet), West (Tiv) and South (Bokoni) Africa. pp. 1-32. In Esterhuysen, A., Sadr, K. and Sievers, C. eds. African archaeology without frontiers: papers from the 14th PanAfrican Archaeological Congress. Johannesburg, Witts University Press.


Rural African farming has often been viewed as ephemeral, shifting cultivation with low output and high unreliability. At the same time, it is often understood as static and relatively unchanged for centuries. More recent historical and archaeological studies of African ‘intensive’ farming systems have challenged this narrative, yet detailed analyses of such systems and the potential to draw ‘lessons’ from them for the future remain limited and restricted to relatively few locations. This paper presents an overview of a new research network designed to share and generate insights into African farming systems across the continent. The network links projects in Kenya (Marakwet), Nigeria (Tiv) and South Africa (Bokoni) in an attempt to develop comparative and pan-African approaches, as well as building unique research capacity, experience, approaches and knowledge in Africa and for Africa. In the paper we introduce each of the partner projects and the specific interdisciplinary and locally engaged approaches under development. We highlight some of the main theoretical and methodological issues addressed by the network, including diachronic approaches to physical geography (soils, water, vegetation), demography (population densities, settlement patterns), farming practice (crops and crop regimes, fallowing, fertility), regional exchange (reciprocity, market exchange, related pastoral systems), broad cultural changes (the nation/region, governance, religion), land tenure (kinship and inheritance, land law), landscape (mapping, perception, temporality), challenges of integrating science and humanities disciplines (social anthropology, land- scape archaeology, geo-archaeology, archaeo-botany, paleo-ecology) and local community engagement (public anthropology/archaeology, indigenous knowledge).



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