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Before It Is Too Late: Constructing an Archive of Oral Sources and a National Museum in Independent Gambia

Alice Bellagamba
Africa Today
Vol. 52, No. 4, Memory and the Formation of Political Identities in West Africa (Summer, 2006), pp. 29-52
Published by: Indiana University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4187738
Page Count: 24
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Before It Is Too Late: Constructing an Archive of Oral Sources and a National Museum in Independent Gambia
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Abstract

This article discusses the cultural policy of the Republic of the Gambia in the aftermath of independence. It illustrates the establishment of an archive of oral sources and a national museum, considers the institutional and intellectual vision that inspired their creation, and comments on their relationships to internal political developments and external debates on the relevance of African sources for the reconstruction of African history. At the core of both initiatives was the idea of providing the emerging nation with a decolonized representation of its past, recovering the tangible and intangible expressions of the cultural and historical heritage of the Gambia River. The subsequent developments of the two institutions are analyzed, showing the declining interest for oral sources and the rise of "heritage politics," determined more by the needs of promoting The Gambia in the tourist market than by an appreciation of the complexities and richness of the country's cultural heritage.

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