Inaugural lecture: Professor Shadreck Chirikure

23 April 2019 | From Kgethi

Dear colleagues and students

I write to cordially invite you to the second Vice-Chancellor’s Inaugural Lecture of the year, which is to be presented by Professor Shadreck Chirikure, director of the Archaeology Materials Laboratory and head of the Department of Archaeology at the University of Cape Town.

The lecture, which will be hosted at the beginning of Africa Month, is titled: “Why does ‘success’ continue to elude contemporary Africa? Some insights from deep history and archaeology”. This lecture will be one of several events and activities taking place on campus during May to commemorate Africa Month. We will share more on some of these in due course.

Professor Chirikure’s research interweaves techniques from the hard sciences with those from the humanities and social sciences to explore ancient African technologies and political economies of precolonial state and non-state systems in Africa and beyond. Among other accolades, Professor Chirikure is a past recipient of the Association of Commonwealth Universities Fellowship at Linacre College, Oxford University, and is a former Harvard–UCT Mandela Fellow. He is one of only 10 recipients of the inaugural and fiercely competitive British Academy Global Professorships.

Contemporary Africa is confronted with perennial challenges of poverty, inequality, youth unemployment and much more. And yet, material culture studies, especially the reverse engineering of remnants from extant technologies, continue to track dynamic social systems, mobilities of knowledge, people and things. Such research systematically exposes sustainable, innovative and resilient African communities across the ages. But, within the context of a much-changed present, is the record of Africa’s past success mindless nostalgia or a pivot for a successful prosperity take-off? Professor Chirikure’s lecture engages archaeological evidence to provide decolonial, multifocal perspectives on these and other issues.

Professor Chirikure is the editor-in-chief of the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of African Archaeology and a senior editor of the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Anthropology. In addition, he is one of the co-editors of Cambridge University Press’s History of Technology book series. He is a member of the board of governors for the Arts Council of the African Studies Association and is a member of the Society for American Archaeology Book Award Committee. Professor Chirikure was recently elected to the advisory council of the New York-based Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research. He sits on at least nine editorial boards of journals in the archaeology field and cognate disciplines.

As well as this lecture, Professor Chirikure will give the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research’s Annual Lecture for 2019. The lecture is one of the most prestigious highlights of academic activities in archaeology at the University of Cambridge. His books include Metals in Past Societies: A global perspective on indigenous African metallurgy (Springer) and Managing Heritage in Africa: Who cares? (Routledge), co-edited with Webber Ndoro and Janette Deacon.

Please join us as we commence Africa Month through this lecture.

When: Friday, 3 May 2019

Where: Lecture Theatre 1, Kramer Law Building, Middle Campus, UCT

Time: 17:00 (doors open at 16:30)

RSVP: Please confirm your attendance online by Monday, 29 April 2019.

For further information, please email or phone 021 650 4847.

Please note: Light refreshments will be served. Due to limited space, seats will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.


Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng

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