Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


The Heritage Implications of Infrastructural and Mining Sector Projects in Africa

10 May 2016, 6:30 pm–8:00 pm

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UCL-Royal African Society Seminar Series

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Institute of Advanced Studies


IAS Common Ground, Ground Floor, South Wing, Wilkins Building

We are pleased to welcome Dr Noemie Arazi (Université libre de Bruxelles) as part of the  UCL African Studies (UCL Institute of Advanced Studies) and Royal African Society joint seminar series exploring issues of Heritage and Politics in Africa.

Infrastructural and mining sector projects in Africa have had devastating effects on heritage resources. Lots of that destruction is attributable to many countries' out-dated heritage legislation. Moreover, the prevalent notion that heritage preservation does not have any immediate and direct effects on the eradication of poverty has resulted in the marginalization of heritage from the development paradigm. Tentative advances have been made though as a result of involved national and international practitioners. Based on several case studies from Central Africa this presentation will contextualize the current situation in which heritage assessments and archaeological salvage work are carried out. It will be shown that in spite of the vast opportunities of implementing such initiatives in the present climate of mineral extraction and large-scale infrastructural development heritage protection in this context remains undervalued and too sporadic. Practitioners are still scratching the surface in the search for progress and solutions concerning a variety of key issues, ranging from compliance to capacity to profit over quality of scientific work.

Noemie Arazi (Universite Libre de Bruxelles)

Noemie holds a PhD from the Institute of Archaeology at UCL. Her study consisted of a comparative analysis using oral traditions, written sources and archaeological data to reconstruct Dia's occupational history, one of West Africa's oldest urban centres located in the Inland Niger Delta of Mali. Alongside her doctoral studies Noemie has also worked on archaeological salvage projects with the Museum of London Archaeological Service. 

After her PhD, she was the coordinator of Project Yesod at the Ename Center for Public Archaeology and Heritage Preservation, an NGO in Belgium, then under the direction of Neil Silberman. Project Yesod's objective was to place minority heritage, such as Jewish and Muslim cultures, in the mainstream of European heritage. 

In 2008 Noemie was asked to direct Heritage Management Services (HMS), the University of Brussels' first spin-off company in the human sciences. HMS brought her back to Africa as its activities focused on cultural heritage impact assessments and archaeological salvage in the context of infrastructural development and natural resource extraction in sub-Saharan Africa. Through HMS Noemie has been at the forefront of advocating the implementation and oversight of heritage protection in environmental and social management systems as well as on publishing non-compliance cases on this issue. 

Noemie is currently launching "Groundworks", a non-profit organisation that will in addition to heritage assessments also focus on community participation. She is a scientific collaborator at the Research Centre of Archaeology and Heritage at the University of Brussels (CReA), and an active member of the Society of Africanist Archaeologists (SAfA) and the International Committee on Archaeological Heritage Management (ICAHM).

All welcome.