Community Archaeology, Essentializing Identity, and Racializing the Past

Author(s): Bradley D Phillippi; Eiryn Sheades

Year: 2018


As anthropologically guided archaeologists, we like to think we are beyond searching for romanticized images of "Natives," "Africans," or any essentialized "other," but despite our best efforts, we still fall victim to its simplicity. Collaborating with descendent communities broadens our perspective, but their perceptions of the past and their ancestors can further complicate the dilemma. This paper explores two mixed-heritage communities in Setauket and Amityville, both on Long Island, New York. Currently in different stages of research, unique questions and concerns about racializing the past have pushed the research in different directions despite the history and heritage that binds the two communities together. We offer no solutions, but instead consider the various strategies people adopted to preserve their cultural heritage and create community. Furthermore, we reflect on our role in the process, particularly in situations where the archaeological record fails to align with descendants’ visions of their ancestors. 

Cite this Record

Community Archaeology, Essentializing Identity, and Racializing the Past. Bradley D Phillippi, Eiryn Sheades. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, New Orleans, Louisiana. 2018 ( tDAR id: 441762)


Temporal Keywords

Spatial Coverage

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

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 858