Barriers to Community Archaeology: Reviewing the Legal Heritage Frameworks Within the South African Context

  • Ndukuyakhe Ndlovu
Part of the One World Archaeology book series (WORLDARCH)


The archaeological landscape in South Africa has been changing, from one defined by the domination of white males to one now defined by women and acknowledging the role of local communities. While this is a welcomed approach to providing insights about the past, the “playing field” is still defined by the minority. As a result, the participation by local communities within archaeological projects happens within a paradigm of thinking defined by legal requirements which may be in contrasts to the beliefs they hold. This is, therefore, not a partnership that should be considered representative of everyone involved. Instead, it is biased towards the professionals. For instance, legal definitions of what heritage is and how such resources should be protected do not, in my view, correlate with an African perspective of heritage. I would argue, therefore, that views by local communities over what is heritage and how best to manage it are in most times ignored in the name of community archaeology and the legal framework within which such a relationship should occur. This chapter, focusing on community archaeology from a heritage management perspective, is a review of the legal challenges negatively affecting community archaeology within the South African context.


Community archaeology Intangible heritage Legal frameworks Meletse/Madimatle case study South Africa 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ndukuyakhe Ndlovu
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Anthropology and ArchaeologyUniversity of PretoriaPretoriaSouth Africa

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