Archive for November, 2011

18
Nov
11

Paul is all set to go on National Geographic Society expedition to Gobero, Niger

Paul writes, as another aside to the Crossroads project. I will shortly be in Niamey as part of a National Geographic Society expedition to undertake fieldwork in Niger for deep (mid-Holocene) archaeology at the site of Gobero.

Past excavation suggests that the Gobero site is dominated by a funerary complex, alongside midden deposits and ecofactual remains indicative of early fishing communities. A major discovery from past work is that the site contains evidence of two past peoples: the Kiffian and Tenerean and that these people occupied the site in two phases c. 7000 BP and c. 5000 BP.  A key aim for the forthcoming geoarchaeology studies at this site, as it is with the forthcoming Crossroads field work in January 2012, is to examine the extent and intensity of natural resource use. Furthermore at Gobero we will seek any evidences of settlement remaining in the and around the funerary complex.

Whilst the expedition is underway, another blog will be hosting details of Gobero discoveries.

Paul

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14
Nov
11

Being and becoming Hausa

As an aside to the Crossroads project, I am really happy to say that the two UK research councils running the Religion and Society project – the ESRC and the AHRC, namely Economic & Social Research and Arts & Humanities – are funding our new project to engage with schoolchildren in Norwich and Zinder, building on the findings of a project Dr Benedetta R and I ran in 2008, called Being and becoming Hausa.

The idea back in 2008 was to bring researchers together to discuss what it means to be Hausa today, and how this sense of identity and belonging has emerged over time (read it all here). Now, with the aid of teachers at City Academy Norwich and the Lycée Ahmadou Kourandaga in Zinder (Niger), we will be discussing ideas of religion and identity with pupils aged 11-15. We’ll encourage pupils to reflect on two fronts: the way in which their identity is historically constructed, and whether their notions of West Africa are shaped by stereotypes of changeless societies and radical Islamism, often promoted by the media. Specifically, we will think with them about what it means to be Hausa, from the North Earlham estate, from Norwich, from Birni; Muslim, Anglican, atheist – how they feel the media portray them, and what factors shape their sense of self. We want to have a strong historical dimension to all of this, because although today religion plays a major role in defining, and often dividing, communities, the Being and becoming Hausa project showed this is not an historical inevitability.

Ultimately there will be a blog charting our collective learning process, and a teaching resource that we will disseminate to other schools and place on the ESRC’s Social Science for Schools website. The aim is to make a wider impact on the cultural awareness of UK youth by breaking down stereotypes about identity and religion, both in West Africa and in the UK, and to improve pupils’ thinking skills and creative output. Through its cross-curricular slant linked into Key Stage 3 of the recently revised National Curriculum, the project will also support UK schools in implementing an integrated project which will enable students to make links between different subject areas.

This project is part of the efforts by the AHRC and the ESRC to publicise the undeniable impact that research in those fields makes to society today and its contribution to wider knowledge beyond academia.




About this blog

This blog has been set up to chart the activities and research findings of two projects led by Anne Haour, an archaeologist from the Sainsbury Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, United Kingdom.

The first project, called Crossroads, brings together a team of archaeologists, historians and anthropologists studying the Niger Valley where it borders Niger and Bénin (West Africa). We are hoping to shed more light on the people that inhabited the area in the past 1500 years and to understand how population movements and craft techniques shaped the area's past.

The second project, called Cowries, examines the money cowrie, a shell which served as currency, ritual object and ornament across the world for millennia, and in medieval times most especially in the Maldive Islands of the Indian Ocean and the Sahelian regions of West Africa. We hope to understand how this shell was sourced and used in those two areas.

These investigations are funded by the European Research Council as part of the Starting Independent Researcher Programme (Seventh Framework Programme – FP7) and by the Leverhulme Trust as a Research Project Grant. The opinions posted here are however Anne Haour's own!

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