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The Association of Southern African Professional Archaeologists’ Transformation Charter for Archaeology in South Africa
“We can neither heal nor build, if such healing and building are perceived as one-way processes, with the victims of past injustices forgiving and the beneficiaries merely content in gratitude. Together we must set out to correct the defects of the past…. The message I am trying to convey is that all of us must take the national project of accelerated and fundamental transformation of our country very seriously indeed. The achievement of the objectives of equity, non-racialism and non-sexism constitute the very essence of the new society we seek to build.” Nelson Mandela. 1996.
“It should now be our intention to try to retrieve what we can of our past. We should write our own history books to prove that we did have a past, and that it was a past that was just as worth writing and learning about as any other. We must do this for the simple reason that a nation without a past is a lost nation, and a people without a past is a people without a soul.” Seretse Khama. 1970.
Recognising that the Association of Southern African Professional Archaeologists is a professional association established to represent the interests of archaeology and archaeologists in southern Africa, ASAPA hereby adopts this Transformation Charter.
The primary aim of this Charter is to guide the implementation of transformation strategies by ASAPA and to provide guidance to our members and related stakeholders as we seek to create a South African archaeology that is truly reflective of the united but diverse society in which South African archaeology is embedded.
In the spirit of the South African and ASAPA constitutions, in which discrimination is unconstitutional, and recognising that archaeologists have striven for many years to drive transformation within the profession, the members of ASAPA hereby adopt a Transformation Charter for Archaeology in South Africa. ASAPA members recognise that the pace of transformation has not occurred as quickly in archaeology as in other sectors of society. For example, in 2008, of more than one hundred and fifty South African ASAPA members, fewer than ten are of African descent. It is in this context, and seeking to facilitate and accelerate the pace of transformation, that we adopt this Charter and commit ourselves to its effective implementation.
This Charter is written for South Africa. It draws strength from the broader SADC ASAPA membership and their experiences of successful archaeological transformation. Whilst its implementation is the primary responsibility of South African-based ASAPA members we ask other SADC and International ASAPA members to support the implementation of this Charter and to apply its principles to their own practice wherever appropriate.
We encourage our members to implement this Charter in our places of work and we commit to support them in this process.
2 Mission and Vision
Building from the mission statement of ASAPA, this Charter sets out a series of
specific goals aimed at furthering the transformation of archaeology in South Africa.
Our vision is to maintain an attractive, productive, progressive, interesting and diverse
professional environment for archaeologists from all backgrounds. This initiative is
aimed initially at transforming South African archaeology primarily in terms of
creating and sustaining more archaeologists from underrepresented groups. A fully
transformed archaeology will be one that is defined by equal access, equal opportunity
and where achievement is on the basis of merit, not on the basis of one or more of the
factors race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour,
sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language, birth
or any other factor that may lead to unfair discrimination.
3 Definition of Terms
Under-represented: those people and groups who have not yet attained equal access
and opportunity within archaeology
Transformation: the process of change by which we collectively work towards a
situation of equal access to all levels of archaeology for all people with
ASAPA: Association of Southern African Professional Archaeologists
SADC: Southern African Development Community
4 General Transformation Goals
4.1 Transformation of training opportunities
• Strive to ensure that all learners are introduced to the practice of archaeology
at an early age and that they are well resourced with archaeological materials
and accurately informed
• Strive to attract, retain and develop students from all backgrounds within
tertiary education in the field of archaeology
4.2 Transformation of employment opportunities
• Strive to ensure equal opportunity of employment for all professional
archaeologists in all sectors of archaeology. To redress past inequities this will
require significant interventive action by ASAPA members.
4.3 Transformation of archaeological practice (e.g. funding, publication,
• Strive to ensure equal access and participation in all levels of professional
archaeology. To redress past inequities this will require significant
interventive action by ASAPA members.
4.4 Transformation of public information, marketing and publicity concerning
• Strive to provide accurate information about the archaeological past and to
market and publicise archaeology to all sectors of South African society
5 Transformation of Archaeological Structures
Acknowledging the value and success of existing institutional transformation policies
and strategies, ASAPA undertakes to accelerate the pace of transformation within
universities, museums, contract archaeological companies and government bodies, by
harnessing the collective power of action of its members. We will not cease in this
struggle until we have forged structures that embrace the importance of archaeology
within South African society and that embody the qualities of equal access and equal
opportunity in all aspects of archaeology. Our structures will be socially dedicated and
will be driven by the archaeological interests and aspirations of all sections of South
6 Transformation of Archaeological Practice
ASAPA and its members undertake to develop collective strategies to strive to ensure
that archaeological practice is driven by the interests and aspirations of all sections of
South African society. We will endeavour to write an archaeological past that does
not privilege any section of our society, whether past or present, above another. Our
practice will be rooted in social awareness and social engagement and our aim is to be
socially responsible. We will adopt and implement common archaeological training
systems and common archaeological unit standards.
This Transformation Charter lays out the goals for archaeological transformation in
Matters concerning implementation, including detailed strategies, milestones and time
frameworks, are set out in the ASAPA Transformation Action Plan that lays out the
significant interventive actions that we will implement to achieve the goals set out in
As formally ratified and adopted by ASAPA
at the BGM on 27th March 2008