Local Communities’ Perceptions of Archaeology and Cultural Heritage Resources in the Mtwara Region of Tanzania

Festo W. Gabriel


This paper examines local communities’ understanding of archaeology and cultural heritage resources. This study was conducted among the Makonde communities of the Mtwara Region of south-eastern Tanzania. The paper presents and critically discusses local communities’ views upon the meaning of archaeology and cultural heritage resources in general. The study used community-based methods by use of interviews, archaeological ethnography and focus group discussions. The results of this study reveal that the local communities in the Mtwara Region are not aware of the meaning of archaeology regardless of the number of archaeological researches that have been conducted in the region. Their understanding of the past is very much confined to intangible cultural traditions which are inherited and practised from one generation to another. Some conclusions are provided which undoubtedly indicate that according to the local communities’ perceptions cultural heritage resources are mainly characterized by intangible cultural practices and beliefs. As this study unveils, in this case tangible heritage resources have less importance to the local communities. This is contrary to the professional or academic conceptions which provide a dual focus on conservation and protection of tangible cultural heritage resources. It is only very recently that we see some studies being conducted focusing on intangible cultural heritage resources.


Archaeology; Cultural Heritage; Local communities; Tangible heritage; Intangible heritage

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.23914/ap.v5i0.63


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Copyright (c) 2017 Festo W. Gabriel

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ISSN: 2171-6315

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