Reclaiming the Sky as a Cultural Resource: Applied Archaeoastronomy in South Africa
Speaker: Dr. Keith Snedegar, Utah Valley University
September 18, 2014, 6pm
ASU Tempe Campus, Schwada Building (SCOB) Room 152
The recent inauguration of the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) and the prospects of developing the even more ambitious Square Kilometer Array (SKA) have opened a public space for the discussion of knowledge heritage in South Africa. It is now appropriate to reassess the country’s scientific culture, confronting rather than ignoring issues of national identity, scientific politics, and racism. There are also great opportunities to apply scholarship on archaeoastronomy and indigenous astronomical knowledge to nation building and basic science education. Scholars such as Jarita Holbrook and Thebe Medupe are leading proponents of the quest to reclaim the sky as a cultural resource for African peoples. In the case of South Africa astronomy, conciliation with a rich if troubled history will only come to pass when the science is not only pursued by members of an international elite but when its African heritage has become fully repatriated.
Keith Snedegar is Professor of History at Utah Valley University, and holds his degrees from Oxford University (D. Phil), the University of Edinburgh, and the University of Michigan. His fields of research are the history of astronomy (including variable star astronomy and photometry) and archaeoastronomy, particularly of South Africa and African indigenous knowledge systems. His awards include the 2009 Dudley Observatory Pollock Award for the History of Astronomy, and he is currently preparing a book, Lost in the Stars: A.W. Roberts at the Intersection of Science, Mission and Politics in South Africa.
Professor Snedegar is the AIA’s Webster Lecturer for 2014/2015.
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