Ivhu rinotsamwa: Landscape Memory and Cultural Landscapes in Zimbabwe and Tropical Africa
Keywords:cultural landscape, landscape memory, cultural heritage, archaeology, material anthropology, tropical Africa, Zimbabwe
Perceptions of the various cultural landscapes of tropical Africa continue to be overdetermined by western philosophies. This is, of course, a legacy of colonialism and the neo-colonial global politics that dictate types of knowledge, and direct flows of knowledge. Knowledges of the communities of former colonised countries are seen as ancillary at best, and at worst, irrational. However, such ‘indigenous knowledge’ systems contain information that could transform how we think about cultural landscapes, cultural heritage, and the conception of 'intangible heritage’. In many non-western societies, the landscape shapes culture; rather than human culture shaping the landscape – which is the notion that continues to inform heritage. Such a human-centric experience of landscape and heritage displaces the ability to experience the sensorial landscape. This paper outlines how landscapes are perceived in tropical Africa, with an example from Zimbabwe, and how this perception can be used to enrich mainstream archaeology, anthropology, and cultural heritage studies. Landscapes have a memory of their own, which plays a part in creating the ‘ruins’ we research or visit. Such landscape memory determines the preservation of heritage as well as human memory. The paper thus advocates for the inclusion of ‘indigenous knowledge’ systems in the widening of the theoretical base of archaeology, anthropology, and heritage studies.
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