closeup of beginning stages of excavation

World Archaeological Congress honors UF Archaeologist

UF professor of anthropology Peter Schmidt was honored by the World Archaeological Congress (WAC) on August 30 at a special plenary session in Kyoto, Japan. This year, 1600 delegates from 83 countries attended the meeting, which is held every four years. Schmidt was awarded the prestigious Peter Ucko Memorial Award. He was also selected to give the Peter Ucko Memorial Lecture, an additional honor.

WAC emphasizes the decolonization of archaeology: i.e. the use of the field to develop international academia, emphasize indigenous history and science, and decrease reliance on Western methodology. Indeed, Schmidt has focused on the decolonization of African Archaeology for nearly five decades. In his early career, he conducted sixteen years of research in Tanzania on indigenous knowledge and innovative iron technology. In 1985, he worked to develop the first department of archaeology in East Africa, now the Department of Archaeology and Heritage Studies at the University of Dar es Salaam. He served as Director of African Studies at the University of Florida, from 1988 to 1995. In Eritrea, he built an intensive, interdisciplinary teaching and research program in anthropology, geography, and archaeology. He has also worked closely with the American Association for the Advancement of Science and Makerere University, in Kampala, Uganda, to establish the Human Rights and Peace Centre at Makerere.

Said WAC President Koji Mizoguchi, These are indeed tremendous services to the furtherance of basic human rights in Africa, and it is truly remarkable that this has been achieved through archaeology and archaeology-related practices, in terms of cutting-edge research and education. Schmidt's achievements show us it is indeed possible for us archaeologists to do something good to the world, and encourage us to follow him.

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