Gambia Field Study Program 2010
May 28 – July 16, 2010
The St. Mary’s College Department of Anthropology announces plans for its 2010 Gambia Field Study Program. This will be the College’s eighth biennial field study program. The program began as a six-week study tour in 1996. It has grown steadily, and now brings together American and Gambian students, citizens and professionals to pursue collaborative research activities of mutual scholarly and community interest over a seven week period.
The plans for the 2010 program reflect an effort to expand and refine our research potential and relevancy with our Gambian partners. Non-Gambian program participants will now choose to take part in either the archaeology or ethnography track of the field study program. Following an initial four-day orientation for the entire group near the capital city of Banjul, those pursuing the archaeology track will travel to the historic riverine trade site of Berefet village, in the Foni district of the Western Region. Those choosing the ethnography track will settle at the College’s compound in Kanifing.
All field study program participants will:
Study either the Wolof or Mandinka languages;
Meet Gambian professionals who will lecture on Gambia’s history, environment, society and culture;
Participate in field trips within Gambia and Senegal;
Conduct first-hand archaeological or ethnographic research with guidance from American and Gambian mentors;
Complete a research paper.
The program fee covers the following expenditures:
Room and board (3 meals per day) for the duration of the trip;
All in-country travel and fees;
Health and emergency evacuation insurance;
Gambian visa fee;
8 upper-level credits of anthropology.
Participants will be responsible for their own personal expenditures.
Archaeology in Berefet village, Foni
According to Berefet villagers, their community was founded nearly 800 years ago. They are now living in the fourth location, having moved steadily away from the river to their current upland site.
Berefet is located immediately south of the better known World Heritage Sites of Fort James on James Island, and the villages of Albreda (Albadar) and Juffure (Jillifree) located on the “Ceded Mile” of Niumi district in the North Bank Region. According to oral history, Berefet is an old trading village that played a role in the networks that supported the trans-Saharan trade prior to European contact with Africans south of the Sahara. The Royal Africa Company maintained factories at Berefet, and the site was most certainly associated with the larger scale Euro-African trade just across the river on James Island, Albreda and Juffure.
The 2010 Gambia Field Studies program proposes to conduct the first systematic survey, map and test the Berefet site in collaboration with the Gambia’s National Centre for Arts and Culture (NCAC) Division of Museums and Monuments (DMM) and the citizens of Berefet village itself. At the same time, the program will collaborate with the NCAC’s Division for Research and Documentation (DRD) staff and citizens of Berefet and neighboring villages to collect oral histories of the area.
Gambia Field Study Program Archaeology & Oral History Staff
Liza Gijanto, principal archaeologist (Syracuse U)
Baba Ceesay, deputy director-general (NCAC)
Lamin Sanyang, archaeology assistant (NCAC)
Bakary Sanyang, cultural officer (NCAC)
Lamin Yarboe, field research/oral history (NCAC)
Lamin Nyagado, field research/oral history (NCAC)
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