Retelling the past

There is a growing tendency to discount knowledge about the past, with archaeology and historicized ways of thinking seen as an unaffordable luxury irrelevant to an African future. At the same time, historical narratives and knowledge play an ever more potent role in discussions about national cohesion, and in debates and litigation over land rights, citizenship and the politics of culture and heritage. Opportunity also comes from wider debates over the nature of scholarship and decolonisation of knowledge. Challenge and opportunity are linked, and the past – whether deep, or recent – must be revisited and retold from new perspectives. Archaeology, ethnography, anthropology, history and a host of complementary disciplines can be used to retell the past.