Overcoming the Silence: Uncomfortable Racial History, Dissonant Heritage, and Public Archaeology at Virginia’s Contested Sites

Author(s): Rebecca Schumann

Year: 2016

Summary

This paper explores the use public historical archaeology at contested sites as means of, and discussing uncomfortable racial histories with multiple communities. Virginian’s colonial and Early Republic heritage struggle with giving a voice to non-Euro-Americans, acknowledge racial inequality, and attracting tourists. This struggle often results in silences that perpetuate structural inequalities from the past in the present. Drawing from my own research and experiences in Virginia, I argue that the actual process of archaeology can help overcome historical silences. The affective experience engendered by archaeological excavations creates memories that contribute to the way archaeologists, community members, and tourists understand these heritage sites. Excavations can promote community engagement and help these sites establish and strength relationships with the descendants of those often overlooked. Archaeology is a powerful way of creating lasting impressions, exploring historical power relationships, and presenting a more ethnically and racially diverse past that is accessible to the public.  

 

Cite this Record

Overcoming the Silence: Uncomfortable Racial History, Dissonant Heritage, and Public Archaeology at Virginia’s Contested Sites. Rebecca Schumann. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Washington, D.C. 2016 ( tDAR id: 434913)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 340