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date: 25 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This article explores two themes among the many ways that material culture, space, and identity have been construed in the African past. First, it discusses studies that have taken the ‘social’ approach to materialities, in which object analysis has been linked overwhelmingly to individual, household, and community aspects of identity, and to the construction of social space in daily practice. Second, it considers the large-scale archaeological entities or cultures that have most often been understood through the lens of ethnicity. It examines a series of decidedly Africanist explorations of the ways that ethnicity and materiality interrelate. Although these seem to be opposite ends of a spectrum in the conceptualisation of identities, the discussion argues that there are similarities in the ways that both draw on the interplay between ethnographic and archaeological interpretations.

Keywords: African material record, African past, material culture, object analysis, archaeological entities, ethnicity

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