Archaeologies by Community Mandate: Practicing Collaborative and Community-Engaged Research

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 80th Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA (2015)

Postcolonial archaeologies, the entanglements surrounding the conservation and management of cultural resources, and the frictions of legislative compliance have made pushing research for research's sake increasingly unsustainable. As a result, many archaeologists have sought to practice an archaeology in which descendant communities, as well as other sectors of the public with vested interests, play an active role. Descendant and public involvement in archaeological and historical research is of particular importance among historically overlooked or disenfranchised communities as these groups are increasingly identifying opportunities for empowerment through collaborative projects and community-based activities. This session seeks to explore the challenges and rewards of practicing collaborative and community-engaged archaeologies. Issues we seek to address include collaborative successes, failures, resolutions to contentious situations, and the theoretical underpinnings of engaging with community and public archaeologies.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-14 of 14)

  • Documents (14)

  • Archaeologies by Community Mandate: Who makes the call? (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Charlotte Sunseri. Jun Sunseri. Heather Atherton.

    Historically, precious little academic archaeology has occurred under the watchful eye of descendant communities who have witnessed generations of researchers come and go, sometimes with no direct contact regarding the results of archaeological investigations in their ancestral places. Despite more recent overtures to mend these practices, we (as a discipline) are still woefully lacking in this regard. Nevertheless, significant changes in the role of cultural patrimony to that of lynchpin in...

  • Archaeology?! Yadilah! Collaborative Archaeology and Lessons from the Navajo Nation (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Ora Marek-Martinez.

    For many Native American tribes, archaeology has been a tool used to dismantle and displace tribal narratives of the past. However, with the development of such approaches as Indigenous archaeology and community based participatory approaches, innovative collaborative projects have emerged, which have changed the way tribes view archaeology and how they engage with archaeological practice. My experiences working with Navajo communities have changed my approach and assumptions when engaging with...

  • Close to Home: bringing heritage management graduate programs to descendant communities (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Peter Mills.

    Hawaiʻi’s state regulations require principal investigators in the 26 active archaeological consulting firms to possess "a graduate degree from an accredited institution in archaeology, or anthropology, with a specialization in archaeology, or an equivalent field." Because there have been few opportunities for appropriate local graduate training, many heritage management specialists are hired from regions outside of Hawaiʻi and begin with little background or connection to descendant...

  • Community Entanglements: Archaeology, Heritage, and Community Partnership at the Little Bay Plantation, Montserrat, West Indies (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jessica Striebel MacLean.

    Tourism has replaced sugar as the Caribbean’s economic engine. The ruins of sugar mills incorporated into resorts create cultural experiences rooted in romanticized notions of colonialism. Paradoxically the labor structure of this externally driven model replicates the racial, economic, and social divisions of the plantation structure. Promoted as "sustainable," the recent shift to heritage tourism while advantageous to archaeology is rife with the colonizing potential of Eurocentric tourism and...

  • Engaged Research, Management and Planning at Tolay Lake Regional Park (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Peter Nelson.

    Archaeology has a long history of extracting knowledge and physical resources from Indigenous communities without redistributing resources or benefits to these communities. The ideas of giving back or "paying in our own currency" are well-meant, albeit simple, attempts to atone for our discipline’s history. However, the historical traumas in Indigenous communities from political, economic and scholarly colonialism are complex, and cannot be remedied with simple fixes. Research that seeks to...

  • Evolving Histories and Changing Archaeologies on the Santa Fe National Forest (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only J Bremer. Anne Baldwin.

    The management of cultural resources on the Santa Fe National Forest includes interpreting the evolving histories of communities and coordinating those histories with the present state of archaeological practice. At the time of its desgination in 1915 the Forest had active excavations and ethnographic research being conducted on it with continuous research since that time. This research has consistently involved using local community members as participants or interpreters. Frequently these...

  • Finding the Balance: Case Studies in Collaboration and Community Engagement from the American Southwest (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Karen Schollmeyer. Suzanne Eckert. Deborah Huntley.

    In this paper we explore the challenges and benefits of conducting archaeological field work in rural communities where many stakeholders have vested interests in our research. Doing work in such situations can often feel like a complicated juggling act as one seeks to build relationships with local landowners, diverse community members, and various government agencies, while at the same time meeting the needs of student participants and achieving research goals. The benefits to all parties,...

  • From Consultation to Collaboration: Expanding the Scope of Archeology's Engagement with Indigenous People (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Lindsay Montgomery.

    Consultation with descendant communities is now a widely accepted reality of doing archeology in North America. Since the passing of NAGPRA twenty-five years ago a robust body of scholarship has developed around the methodological and theoretical aspects of consulting with indigenous communities. Although many scholars today point out the need for "collaboration" in addition to "consultation" the constraints of archeological research and tribal politics often make true collaboration difficult....

  • The Good, the Bad, and the Awkward: The Archaeology Open House as Heritage Process (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Bonnie Clark.

    The open house has long been a tool employed by archaeologists who wish to engage or at least inform the public about their field work. Projects that have a strong community mandate would seem tailor-made for this type of activity. Yet if these events are to meet their promise they need to move from mere "show and tell" to more thoughtful and theoretical interventions. That is particularly true for sites with difficult or contested histories. This presentation draws on four seasons of open...

  • Mandating Community Archaeology: Using Law to Bridge the Gap Between Public Outreach and Community Engagement (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Kelly Britt.

    The task of decolonizing the practice of archaeology for a collaborative community project in the public sector is one that is at times easier said than done. While many archaeologists working in federal, state and local agencies may subscribe to a postcolonial approach to research and dissemination of data, political bureaucracy, budget cuts, limited staff and time, among other issues, all make this endeavor challenging to say the least. However, for federal agencies, a variety of laws and...

  • Materializing the Momentary: Community Engagement Through Ethnographic Practice (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Annelise Morris.

    Community engagement is a growing aspect of archaeological practice; not only are archaeologists realizing that these kinds of projects are increasingly important to the movement of decolonization in regards to the histories of under-represented communities, but also that these relationships produce valuable knowledge about sites and their life histories. This paper specifically examines the unique ethnographic moment that arises when descendants and archaeologists come together in the practice...

  • More than Mere Dots on a Map: Archaeological Sites among Venda-speaking Communities of the Soutpansberg (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Johannes Loubser.

    TThe presentation deals with fieldwork conducted between 1983 and 1985 to reconstruct the early history and political-economy of Venda-speaking communities in the Soutpansberg region of South Africa. In order to visit, locate, identify, map, excavate, and interpret ancestral stone-walled sites, the permission, guidance, background information, physical labor, and orally transmitted information of local Venda-speaking people were essential. In most instances permission and guidance to sites were...

  • Practicing Community Archaeology and Present Communities of Practice in Archaeology: A Southwestern Perspective (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Michael Adler.

    Practicing archaeology as part of descendant community historical research necessarily addresses issues of cultural identity, concepts of historical continuity, political status and myriad other considerations. This case study focuses on the interplay of communities in the northern Rio Grande region of the American Southwest that are variously defined by Native American, Hispanic, and other identities, as they relate to ongoing negotiations over water rights and other natural resource uses. ...

  • Taking and Giving: Finding the Balance in Community Archaeology (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Stephen Silliman. Katherine Sebastian Dring.

    One of archaeology’s seemingly inescapable practices is the act of taking, and it remains one of the hardest aspects to manage for communities that work with archaeologists because of its appropriative nature and colonial legacies. A way to balance this "taking" is to emphasize at least as much "giving" in the process, which requires a level of sharing and dialogue that are only now becoming part of archaeologists’ conceptual and methodological toolkits. This paper considers these issues in the...