World Archaeological Congress


Newsletter: Volume 27 April 2009

Contributions to the next WAC Newsletter due 18th May 2009

Archaeologists Without Borders Workshop

Report on the website of the World Archaeological Congress

Archaeologies of Art Podcast Series Launched!

Call for WAC members to nominate Indigenous people

World Archaeological Congress honors Larry Zimmerman

Dr Andree Rosenfeld

Recommendation on ERA Draft Quality Ranking

WAC-6 Media Releases

WAC-6 Closing Ceremony Speech

Portuguese WAC-6 Media Releases

German WAC-6 Media Releases

Spanish WAC-6 Media Releases

Turkish WAC-6 Media Releases

Czech. WAC-6 Media Release on Iran



Presidents of the World Archaeological Congress

Claire Smith (current)

Claire SmithClaire Smith is an Associate Professor in Archaeology at Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia. She has been a member of WAC since the early 1990s and was the junior representative for Southeastern Asia and the Pacific from 1994-2003. She was Editor of WAC News, the newsletter of the World Archaclairesmitheological Congress, from 1994-1998.

Claire's main field experience is in Indigenous archaeology. She has conducted fieldwork in the Barunga-Wugularr region of southern Arnhem Land, Australia, since 1990, and returns to do fieldwork there every year.

Claire's books include Indigenous Cultures in an Interconnected World (co-edited with Graeme K. Ward, Allen and Unwin 2000), Country, Kin and Culture. Survival of an Australian Aboriginal Community (Wakefield Press 2004), Indigenous Archaeologies: Decolonising Archaeological Theory and Method (co-edited with H. Martin Wobst, Routlege, 2005) and The Archaeologist's Field Handbook (with Heather Burke, Allen and Unwin, 2004).

A paper by the new President on her vision for the World Archaeological Congress is published in Antiquity


Martin Hall 1999 - 2003

Martin HallMartin Hall has been involved in WAC since the conference in Southampton in 1986 that led directly to the formation of the World Archaeological Congress. At the time Martin was writing about the relationship between politics and archaeology, with particular reference to the way in which a racially biased history and archaeology was being used to justify white dominance in apartheid South Africa (for example, see Martin Hall, "The burden of tribalism: the social context of southern African Iron Age Studies", American Antiquity 49(3):455-467, 1984). As a South African Martin was affected by academic boycott movement and like 25 other archaeologists in that country, he was not permitted to attend the Southampton conference.

The formation of WAC had a significant effect on raising awareness of the politics of archaeology within South Africa, and encouraged a small group of "intellectual activists" within the country. When Mandela was released in early 1990, South African archaeologists were able to participate in WAC meetings as observers, and when the first democratic elections were held in 1994, the ban on South African participation was formally rescinded. This - fortuitously - coincided with the third WAC Congress in New Delhi, and so it was natural that Bassey Andah led the proposal that the fourth WAC Congress should be held in South Africa. Martin was appointed Academic Secretary and, at the 1999 Cape Town Congress, was made President. In the role of President, Martin's focus was to try and align WAC with a rather different world from the one in which it was born.

At the Fifth Congress in Washington in mid-2003, participants from many parts of the world came together to express concern about the new ligaments of power, dominance and cultural imperialism. Their contribution demonstrated that alignments between marginalized and oppositional voices are very powerful in the international forum of practicing archaeologists.


Gilbert Pwiti (acting)

Gilbert Pwiti took on the position of Acting President of WAC after Bassey Andah died unexpectedly in 1997.


Bassey Wai Andah 1994 - 1997

Bassey AndahBassey Andah was the third President of WAC elected at the Congress in Delhi in 1994, and he held this position until his death in December 1997.

Bassey, a Nigerian, completed his doctoral studies in Berkeley in the early 1970s and was appointed Professor of the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology at the University of Ibadan in 1985. He promoted and developed a strong independent identity for the study of archaeology in Africa, and he was critical of the colonial context in which expatriate archaeologists had taught and researched in Africa. In his own area of research he focussed on West Africa and issues of cultivation. He was interested in the development of cultural resources management which he considered was a means of linking the past with the present. For over 20 years from 1978 he edited the West African Journal of Archaeology. Bassey was an educator and theorist, and he published more than 70 journal articles and chapters in books, as well as writing four books. He co-authored six books on African archaeology.

From the first WAC Conference in Southampton in 1986 when he spoke out against apartheid, Bassey had been a significant voice in WAC. He was selected to serve on the WAC Steering Committee during 1986/87, a significant time in the establishment of the organisation. He actively promoted the study of African archaeology, and at the second international Congress in 1990 he proposed the strengthening of African representation within WAC. Bassey was instrumental in the actions that led to the extension of membership to South Africans, and at the 1993 InterCongress meeting, South Africa was admitted to the WAC Council's Electoral College. As a mark of respect for his significant contribution to African archaeology, and to the development of WAC, the first Bassey Andah Memorial Lecture was held at WAC4 in Cape Town in 1999.

(The information for this summary was sourced from the publication of the text of the Bassey Wai Andah First Memorial Lecture: A Tribute to the Life and work of Professor Bassey Wai Andah by Thurstan Shaw, Peter Ucko and Kelvin MacDonald, Textflow Limited, Ibadan, Nigeria 1999)


Jack Golson 1990 - 1994

Jack GolsonJack Golson, WAC President from the second Congress in Barquisimeto in September 1990 to the third in New Delhi in December 1994, was born in England in 1926. He studied history and archaeology at Cambridge University. In 1954 he took up a lectureship in archaeology in New Zealand in the young Department of Anthropology at the University of Auckland, where he carried out research on the prehistory of New Zealand and the islands of the tropical South Pacific. In 1961 he moved to the Department of Anthropology in the Research School of Pacific Studies at the Australian National University, which was just moving into the archaeological field. Here he came to head a Department of Prehistory carrying out archaeological research in Australia, New Guinea and the nearer islands of the southwest Pacific, with his own fieldwork taking place in Papua New Guinea. He was due for retirement at the end of 1991, and this made it possible for him to agree to being nominated for the WAC Presidency in 1990.

WAC was less than four years old at the time and was still in the process of defining its aims and objectives and equipping itself with the structure and the constitution to carry them out. Golson's aim and hope was for a few quiet years of consolidation for this to be achieved. Important steps in this direction were taken at meetings of the WAC Executive in Nairobi in January 1993 on the eve of an InterCongress in Mombasa, and at a business meeting of the general membership during it.

During its Nairobi meetings the Executive received the first intimation of future problems for WAC flowing from the destruction of the Babri mosque at Ayodhya, particularly in the light of the fact that the next WAC Congress was to be held in New Delhi within two year's time. The issue came to dominate the planning and proceedings of that Congress.


Professor Michael Day
M.B.,B.S.,D.Sc.,F.C.S.P. (Hon.)
Founding President of the World Archaeological Congress

Michael DayProfessor Michael Day is Emeritus Professor of Anatomy, St. Thomas's Hospital Medical School, London University, United Kingdom. Hi research interests and publications are in the fields of primatology and palaeoanthropology principally on the interpretation of fossil hominid bones from Kenya and Tanzania found by the Leakey family. His work on postcranial remains such as the Olduvai Hominid 8 foot and the Olduvai Hominid 7 hand demonstrated that the Lower Pleistocene hominids were capable bipeds and possessed manipulative ability consistent with stone tool manufacture.

Professor Day undertook the Chairmanship of the Executive Committee of the first WAC meeting in Southampton when the British Executive Committee of the International Union of Prehistoric and Protohistoric Sciences (I.U.P.P.S.) found itself unable to agree to host the meeting due to differences of opinion concerning the participation of South Africans while apartheid legislation was in place in that country. The success of the 1986 congress in Southampton assured the world-wide survival of the organisation that is now the World Archaeological Congress.