The years around independence were years of culture wars. Over fifty years have passed since - forty in the case of the former Portuguese colonies - and new cultural wars are waged on which part of the past, and which biographies, locations and archives can be "rediscovered" and for which purposes.
The years around independence, the magic moment that spanned from 1958 to 1975, were years of culture wars waged on that which had to be preserved and which aspects, locations or moments, to the contrary, had to be rejected in the narratives about the precolonial and colonial history of the newly independent country. Oral history (griots) was a way to counterbalance historical accounts based on written sources, some places became icons of a past to be revered and dealt with as being constitutive of the new country (Gorée, the Ghanaian slave forts), archeology could show to the outer world the greatness of the African past, and popular culture - especially music - was called upon to redefine the narrative of the nation. A number of decades have passed since and new cultural wars are waged. Now the key question seems to be which part of the past, and which biographies, locations and archives can be "rediscovered" and even turned into national heritage to assist in the development of narratives and cultural practices that could help the country to move successfully into the future. This panel deals with:
Biographies of national leaders or heroes; The politics and practice of museums and archives;
The (un)making of (national) monuments, heritage sites, new national heroes (and villains) forgetting and forgiving; The process of patrimonialization of intangible culture - turning popular culture into heritage;
National history projects; The practice and politics of archeology - what politicians and the government would like the archeologist to be doing (and finding).