Mandating Community Archaeology: Using Law to Bridge the Gap Between Public Outreach and Community Engagement

Author(s): Kelly Britt

Year: 2015


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 ordinances requiring public outreach provide opportunities to pursue a community centered practice. Compared to many academic community archaeology projects, a federal approach appears to be more top-down ‘outreach’ rather than dialogic ‘engagement’ with the community. Consequently, this paper will discuss ways in which ‘outreach’ can be a stepping stone to a community-based approach to these projects. It will highlight several successes and hardships in conducting community-engaged archaeology in the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Given this agency’s mission to support citizens and first responders in all stages of disasters from preparation to recovery, it is not the first agency one thinks of when imagining public sector archaeology, yet it provides a unique setting in which to conduct community archaeology.

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Cite this Record

Mandating Community Archaeology: Using Law to Bridge the Gap Between Public Outreach and Community Engagement. Kelly Britt. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395926)


Community Law Outreach

Geographic Keywords
North America - Northeast

Spatial Coverage

min long: -80.815; min lat: 39.3 ; max long: -66.753; max lat: 47.398 ;