Archaeologies Of Care: Rethinking Priorities In Archaeological Engagements

Part of: Society for Historical Archaeology 2017

Inspired by recent thinking about the role of archaeology in war torn Syria and the ongoing refugee crisis, this session brings together two threads of interest regarding archaeology and archaeologists. Writing against the presumption that archaeologists will be defenders of ancient sites destroyed by ISIS militants, some have voiced alternative possibilities for who and what archaeologist are in these settings. For one, archaeologists are literally boots on the ground working with local people, which leads them to care, or to take seriously the everyday lives of these individuals and communities. Second, this engagement leads to prioritizing the documentation of displaced people over the preservation of sites, since it can very well be our colleagues being displaced. Moreover, we recognize that displacement creates its own elusive materiality that can only be recorded in the moment and by those familiar with the settings and social contexts that forced the decision to leave.

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  • Documents (9)

  • An Archaeology of Care in the Bakken Oil Patch (North Dakota, USA) (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Richard Rothaus. William Caraher. Bret Weber.

    The University of North Dakota Man Camp Project has used archaeology to engage seriously the issues of workforce housing and industrial landscapes in the Bakken. Our work proceeds with a focus not on the ebullience (or catastrophe) of the Bakken, but rather on the material culture of housing in a dynamic extractive landscape. We do not advocate, nor do we analyze or make policy recommendations. Our work in the field epitomizes, however, an archaeology of care for the communities in which we...

  • The Archaeology of Refugee Crises in Greece: Diachronic Cultural Landscapes (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Kostis Kourelis.

    The escalation of the Syrian Civil War caused a refugee crisis in Greece as thousands of people crossed the Aegean, leading to tragic loss of life. When Balkan neighbors closed their borders in 2016, some 50,000 migrants and refugees were trapped in Greece. The country responded by a dispersing this population throughout the country in new camps over abandoned sites like army camps, tourist resorts, commercial spaces, gymnasia, fair grounds, and even archaeological sites. Using lessons from the...

  • Caring Forthe Future With Archaeology (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Christopher Matthews.

    Historical archaeology is a useful method for discovering silenced and hidden pasts that force reconsideration of how the present came to be and at what and who’s expense. This impulse regularly generates deeper appreciations for the power of the past in and over the present. Yet, archaeologists less often move their results forward to engage with the futures that contemporary people, such as descendant and local communities, can make with new archaeological knowledge. This is surprising since a...

  • Everyday Archaeology on the Navajo Nation (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Kerry Thompson.

    The role of archaeology in facilitating everyday life on the Navajo Nation is a day-to-day concern for many Navajo Nation citizens. Citizens and communities of the Navajo Nation and the nation itself engage with archaeology in three ways. Individual citizens require archaeology to secure the necessary permission to build a home on reservation land. For Navajo communities, archaeology is part and parcel with infrastructure and land use planning and development. At the government level archaeology...

  • Expanding the Dialogue: A Conversation Between Descendent and Archaeologist about Community, Collaboration, and Archaeology at Timbuctoo, NJ (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Christopher P. Barton. Patricia G. Markert. Guy Weston.

    Meaning is not monolithic. Presented here are different narratives on the interests of archaeologists and descendants. Focus is given to the African American community of Timbuctoo. This project, like many other attempts at community archaeology is not a story of unabated triumphs: rather, these narratives are about the challenges that can emerge through collaboration. This is not meant to demean collaborative archaeology, rather it is to underscore that through pragmatic discourse we can...

  • The Gila River Japanese American Incarceration Camp: Thinking With The Past (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Koji H. Ozawa.

    Recent research on the World War II Japanese American Incarceration Camp at Gila River has provided both depth of knowledge to the subject and a forum for community engagement. Archaeology in particular has brought to light the diversity of experiences and the specific physical conditions of this displacement and confinement. Through a thorough examination of the context and materials of the Japanese American Incarceration, archaeological investigation can further our understanding of the...

  • Passionate Work: Communities of Care and the DU Amache Project (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Bonnie J. Clark.

    Working at Amache, the site of a WWII era Japanese American incarceration camp, involves several facets of an "archeology of care." First, over five field seasons the University of Denver Amache Project has revealed significant physical evidence of how these displaced people took care of themselves, their families, and their neighbors.  Both artifacts and landscape modification speak to many caretaking strategies.  Second, the project creates space for the care of stakeholders through opening up...

  • Race and the water: the materiality of swimming, sewers and segregation in African America (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Paul R. Mullins. Timo Ylimaunu.

    Few dimensions of the color line were monitored as closely as access to American rivers, beaches, and swimming pools, which became strictly segregated in the early 20th century. This paper examines the heritage of color line inequalities in Indianapolis, Indiana's waters, where beaches were segregated, African Americans were restricted to a single city pool, and waterways in African-American neighborhoods still accommodate sewer overflows. Despite that history, a new wave of urbanites is now...

  • A Sympathetic Connection: The role of sympathy in an archaeology of contemporary homelessness (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Courtney E Singleton.

    Sympathy is a sentiment that involves the recognition of self in another on the grounds of similitude. For archaeologists sympathy is an important concept as it is materially based and allows for communication across various boundaries of difference. Most scholars tend to focus on the body and embodied experience as the grounds for sympathetic connection. However, archaeologists can evoke sympathy in the marked absence of bodies in order to connect across spatial, temporal, and social boundaries...