Peter R. Schmidt was honored by the World Archaeological Congress (WAC) August 30 at a special plenary session at WAC-8 in Kyoto, Japan. He was awarded the prestigious Peter Ucko Memorial Award. He was also unanimously selected to give the Peter Ucko Memorial Lecture, an additional honor. The President of WAC, Koji Mizoguchi, when conferring the award, said:
“I am honored and privileged to announce that the Peter Ucko Memorial Award recipient at WAC-8 Kyoto 2016 is Professor Peter Schmidt, Professor of Anthropology, University of Florida.
Peter Schmidt embodies the cause of WAC by dedicating himself to the welfare of archaeology in Africa and the decolonization of African Archaeology for nearly five decades. After sixteen years of research in Tanzania on indigenous knowledge and innovative iron technology, he turned in 1985 to building the first department of archaeology in East Africa, now the Department of Archaeology and Heritage Studies at the University of Dar es Salaam. After nearly a decade of university administration as Director of African Studies at the University of Florida, he went back to Africa again, this time in Eritrea. There he constructed an interdisciplinary teaching and research program in anthropology, geography, and archaeology, training a number of undergraduates at the equivalent of the MA level, with many of them subsequently going on for higher degrees. In between these events he worked closely with the American Association for the Advancement of Science and Makerere University, Uganda, to establish a Human Rights and Peace Centre at Makerere in Kampala, Uganda.
These are indeed tremendous services to the furtherance of basic human rights in Africa, and it is truly remarkable that this has been achieved through archaeology and archaeology-related practices, in terms of cutting-edge research and education. His achievements show us it is indeed possible for us archaeologists to do something good to the world, and encourage us to follow him.”
Caption: Professor Peter Schmidt delivering the Peter Ucko Memorial Lecture at the World Archaeological Congress in Kyoto, Japan, August 30, 2016.