Alex Schoeman is the Archaeology Academic Program Coordinator at the University of the Witwatersrand. Her research explores the material culture and food production of African farming communities, as well as farmer - hunter-gatherer interaction. She also has an ongoing interest in the archaeology of gender.
Prof. Schoeman leads the NRF funded Bokoni Urban Farmscapes project, which is making a significant contribution to understandings of the complexity of precolonial farming in Africa. Currently, the project is exploring the people of Bokoni’s relationships with the social, economic, physical and environmental conditions under which Bokoni farmers established the system of stone built terrace agriculture that left such an extensive archaeological footprint in Mpumalanga.
This archaeological research is also relevant in the present because stone-walled terraced agricultural sites speak to innovative approaches to farming, and long term relationships with the land. This challenges imaginings of African farming as unsustainable and constantly shifting. Long term sustainable farming, however, is also practiced at sites without terracing, and collaboration within the multi-disciplinary African Farming Network places Bokoni farming in a wider discourse about the configuration, challenges and successes of African farming in the past and present.
She teaches two undergraduate archaeology courses. These are the Archaeology of the Last 2000 years in South Africa (ARCL2005) and the History of Archaeological Thought (ARCL3004). ARCL 2005 explore the making of contemporary South Africa society in the Last 2000 years, focusing on role players such as hunter-gatherers, African farmers and slaves. ARCL3004 is designed to equip undergraduates with a broad framework for understanding the issues that have affected, and still affect the way that we understand the past. Lecture topics include: A History of Archaeologists & Race, Gender in Archaeology, Archaeology and Queer Theory and Approaches to Violence in Archaeology.