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African territories and policies

2. African territories and policies


This Work Group includes all the projects covering African Landscape and Social Structures mostly framed as a monographic Studies. It includes the following projects:


2.1. Geo-spatial information for development and heritage conservation in South-West Angola
This project intends to produce a regional geographical, historical and anthropological overview contributing to the environmental and historical identity of Southwestern Angola, one of the African regions most affected by desertification. It also aims to contribute to the discussion of regional entities. Have regions physical boundaries and to what degree are they are mainly cultural (man-made) entities?

Therefore, the project aims to map and analyse:

  1. The habitat and the farming systems of this region. The project intends to analyse the types of scale farming operations (ultra-small, small, moderate and large-scale), agro-pastoral activities (combination of trees or shrubs with pastures for animal production) and their trends.
  2. The flora of the various ecological zones, identifying useful plants for food and medicine. The project intends to produce an inventory of the ecological resources of the region and ascertain their importance to local communities – countering the desert expansion and for medical uses.
  3. The archaeological sites (pre-historical and modern ones) of the Huila, Kunene and Namibe Province. Scientific archaeology was just beginning in Angola in the late colonial years. Old and recent identified archaeological sites have never been inventoried and mapped in a systematic database with GPS references. This is the first step to produce a scientific archaeological chart of the Huila, Kunene and Namibe Province.

Main set of expected outputs:

  • A web platform with files for all the identified heritage sites will be displayed.
  • A regional monograph book.  

The results are expected to strengthen the regional civil society (CEAUP will work with the Namibe Angolan Research center CED) and to provide tools for the environmental and social challenges.


2.2. African Foreign Policies and Political Parties

African foreign policies, as well as its political organizations of the last 40 years, still lack monographic studies and have not yet received proper focus as academic fields. This sub-area intends:

  • to focus on  the foreign policies of African States;
  • to list available archive and media sources on these items;
  • to collect oral evidence in order to organize an oral archive;
  • to organize a biannual conference on Foreign Policies of African States, for which a network of research is being organized.


2.3 Surveying for Conservation of the Western Sahara Cultural Heritage


What is this project about?

- Organizing a national inventory of the Western Sahara Heritage

-  Contributing to research and to the setting of Heritage policies in the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR)-controlled area



The former colony of the Western Sahara remains one of the oldest decolonization conflicts. It was a war-zone for 16 years (1976-1991). Since 1991 a political stalemate has prevented the establishment of effective Heritage conservation policies. This project intends to collect and digitalize Heritage data of the whole W. Sahara territory. Still, the political situation allows field missions to be carried out only in the SADR controlled-area (approximately 20% of the former colonial area).



This Heritage is currently at a high risk of loss. Desert conditions erode material heritage and conflict risks add to natural ones. Since this part of the territory is still a potential military theatre, there are few permanent infra-structures such as roads, urban or social equipments. Part of the ground is still mined and debris of military equipment (land and plane bombs not exploded) is common. It is a scarcely populated area: only SADR officials (civil and military), the MINURSO personnel (alleged author of looting and vandalism) and Bedouin nomadic families dwell therein. Most of its valuable archeological heritage is NOT registered neither protected.


Is this Heritage worth while?

The importance of the Western Sahara historical heritage can be induced by the scale of the findings of late missions. Some of them in few weeks got to the register of 400 Pre-historical sites (stone tumuli, bazinas, stone crescents, mounds). In historical times, cross routes of caravans and conflicts (from Carthage time to the 1976-91 wars) left a vast amount of archeological material. So far, archeology of modern and late modern times had almost no field work in W. Sahara.

To whom it serves?

The Sahara cultural Heritage is important to all but especially meaningful for the Saharawi communities. The disturbances of the late 50 years of life in refugee camps did not left them much time for research and to form Heritage qualified personnel. That is why this project also intends to train W. Saharan Heritage-interested citizens and professional staff.


The project intends to create a RDBM website and to build a Data and Collection Center in Tifariti. The first one will allow inserting under standard formats all data collected on the ground and make them available for the scientific community and the SADR authorities. The Data Center is an indispensable facility to study and preserve Heritage collections, which otherwise would be lost on the ground, not classified or lost in transit. In order to disseminate the project results to all, a program of publications and outreached activities is included.


By who?

This project is conceived and run by two R&D Units: Centro de Estudos Africanos da Universidade do Porto (CEAUP)  and Centro de Estudos de Comuniação e Sociedade (CESC)  and their Saharawi partners, the University of Tifariti and the SADR Ministry of Culture

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Centro de Estudos Africanos da Universidade do Porto
Via panorâmica, s/n
4150-564 Porto

+351 22 607 71 41