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Anthropological Quarterly 75.2 (2002) 355-374

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Development In Theory

Encountering Archaeology in Tanzania:
Education, Development, and Dialogue at the University of Dar es Salaam

Adria LaViolette
University of Virginia

From 1987 to 1989 I taught in the Archaeology Unit of the History Department at the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, 1 and have returned to the Unit for extended periods on an average of nearly every year since, in the context of ongoing archaeological research in Tanzania and in collaboration with archaeology faculty and students at the University. The following are observations and reflections based on my initial two years of teaching there, and on the changes and continuities encountered subsequently. These may resonate with the increasing number of western-based anthropologists who have spent time engaged in educational development at the university level in Africa, and those others with long-term commitments to foreign education, conservation, and research in different capacities in non-western settings. I seek to portray certain aspects of life in the university as well as in the Archaeology Unit for both students and faculty, noting especially the challenges faced and overcome on a daily basis and in the course of academic careers. I then discuss the Archaeology Unit in terms of its effects on the personal and professional lives of Tanzanians, and on the practice of archaeology. These observations have additional meaning within an anthropology that, however self-aware and self-critical, continues to be dependent upon the hospitality of peoples and nations only several decades beyond their colonial history, a [End Page 355] history in which anthropology was intimately involved (see Brokensha 1966; Hoben 1982; Escobar 1991, 1995). The descriptions that follow are ones that could well apply in general outline to many university campuses in the developing world. I include them as background, but specifically to underscore the stressed atmosphere that prevailed in Tanzania during a period of great momentum for the Archaeology Unit and for the practice of archaeology there, and against which to chart more recent changes, many for the better, and their own repercussions.

The University Setting

The University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) Archaeology Unit was formed in 1985, and is the only venue for training in archaeology in the country. Initially the curriculum was designed and taught by a Tanzanian archaeologist trained to the M.A. level at the University of California, Berkeley, and a senior American archaeologist who raised the generous private corporate and Ford Foundation funding that went into the establishment of the Unit. These funds provided teaching salaries, vehicles, field equipment, computers, a library, and operating funds to initiate the program. The Unit's founders were assisted by part-time instructors recruited from two other institutions in Dar es Salaam: the National Museum, and Muhimbili University College and Health Sciences, then the Faculty of Medicine. These faculty had earned foreign graduate degrees—M.A.s, Ph.D.s, and an M.D.—and juggled teaching at the Archaeology Unit with their full-time jobs elsewhere. I was part of a team in the second phase of development (1987-1989), two recent Ph.D.s from the U.S., engaged as full-time lecturers to continue teaching and research duties begun during the Unit's start-up phase, assisted by some part-time instructors as before. Each year between three and six students began their three-year program in archaeology, making the classes small and the resources adequate to support them. The archaeology students also took classes in history and geology to supplement their training. Following our departure in 1989, instructors from the U. K. and Norway took over the full-time teaching load, usually two at a time. Foreign lecturers were essential to the teaching force until 1993, when they were replaced with an entirely Tanzanian academic and support staff, a situation that remains today. The current full-time Tanzanian faculty have earned M.A.s, M.Phil.s, and Ph.D.s in the U.S., Sweden, Britain, and Canada, and they continue to be assisted...


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