Between Government and Grassroots: Archaeologists and Social Justice in International Contexts

Author(s): Claire Novotny

Year: 2018


Working at the community level is a crucial component of an engaged, socially just discipline. Advancing archaeology towards greater inclusivity is an increasingly common conversation within the discipline. The majority of literature on this topic focuses on grassroots efforts to include marginalized descendant communities or other stakeholders in research design, implementation, knowledge dissemination and curation. An ever present and often unanalyzed aspect of research (especially abroad), are the required negotiations with government officials, who are political stakeholders invested in maintaining the status quo. These negotiations can be source of friction among research goals, community commitments and governmental regulations. My research in the Toledo District, Belize, shows that dealing with political realities while staying committed to social justice and engagement is an uncomfortable but vital balance to be struck. I argue that archaeologists can work as advocates to keep open lines of communication with governments as well as local people; we hold a privileged though awkward position that can be carefully and strategically leveraged for social justice aims. Anthropological archaeology has much to offer if we use it as a tool for greater inclusivity and social justice, within our borders or abroad.

Cite this Record

Between Government and Grassroots: Archaeologists and Social Justice in International Contexts. Claire Novotny. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 445074)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: -95.032; min lat: 15.961 ; max long: -86.506; max lat: 21.861 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 22311