Pragmatism in Practice: Advocacy, ethics, and impediments in compliance

Author(s): Shannon Dunn

Year: 2016


The practice of “compliance archaeology” within existing structures requires practitioners to constantly weigh ideals against practicalities. What we think should be done, and how, is often limited by shortfalls in budgets, labor, time, and access. It is evident that few cultural resource stewards or managers have the resources they need to sufficiently address the requirements of Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, much less compliance with any other legislation, guideline, or agreement. Even where ethics, professional standards, and investigative protocols are clearly defined, data sufficient to moving through the “Section 106 process” is often not recovered or fully presented and distributed; ultimately, the archaeological community, local populations, the general public, descendants, and other affiliated groups – as well as relationships between and among these – suffer as a result. In this presentation, I will utilize case studies of both successes and failures during my time as a compliance archaeologist to highlight opportunities for advocacy within applied contexts; to illustrate how ethical arguments can supplement rational ones to work toward compromise when consensus is not attainable; and to outline the impediments archaeologists may continue to face in the implementation of compliance work in the foreseeable future.

Cite this Record

Pragmatism in Practice: Advocacy, ethics, and impediments in compliance. Shannon Dunn. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 404373)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -91.274; min lat: 24.847 ; max long: -72.642; max lat: 36.386 ;