(University of Leicester)
Paper Short Abstract:
This paper explores the lived world of Kel Tadrart, semi-nomadic and settled pastoralists living in the Libyan Sahara. Understanding this unique landscape lies in the cultural ideals and embedded social memory that continue to underscore Kel Tadrart life, something in contrast with the environmental determinism that underlies many anthropological and archaeological imaginings of the central Sahara.
Paper long abstract:
This paper explores the lived world of the Kel Tadrart, semi-nomadic and settled pastoralists living in the south-west of the Libyan Sahara. Building on two recent ethnoarchaeological missions, the different understandings of the unique landscape of the Tadrart Acacus mountain range and surrounding area are seen to lie less in our disciplinary datasets, and more in the cultural ideals and embedded social memory that continue to underscore Kel Tadrart life. Of interest here is also how the worldview that lies behind the disciplinary practice of archaeology and anthropology depends on a kind of environmental determinism that is at odds with those who actually live in and around the Tadrart Acacus. Local perceptions of the environment and landscape, associated with the strategies pursued to survive within this extremely arid region, show an unexpected dynamism and variability, especially when viewed in an historical perspective. The paper also explores the ongoing challenges in integrating archaeological, anthropological, and local knowledges, and also tries to account for the context of rapid change brought about by the relatively recent opening up of the Libyan Sahara to tourism, an activity which increasingly impacts on Kel Tadrart lives and livelihoods.
Imagining past and present landscapes