Reviewed by: Archaeology Division
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Students, Those Involved in Mentoring Activities
Primary Theme: Inclusivity
Secondary Theme: Indigeneity
Archaeologists work closely with communities over the course of their field research. This work often begins with securing permissions, gaining access to lands or facilities, and finding a local crew to assist with data collection. Over the course of a field project, these relationships grow and change. Many in our discipline actively discuss community engagement to critically evaluate the methods and goals of this kind of collaborative research. In our roundtable discussion, we aim to advance this conversation with the inclusion of community members with whom we work closely. Our goal is to discuss the future of our collaborations by including the community engagement in anthropological (archaeological) research design. We will discuss the ways close collaborations with communities can improve the quality and sustainability of archaeological research.
Each of the five participants will be an archaeologist who has conducted research in the state of Oaxaca, southern México. We will each speak alongside a town resident or official with whom we have worked closely. We plan to include community members using Skype. We will cover a series of topics this group of archaeologists and community members have encountered throughout the course of their collaborations. These issues include land access, working with human remains, cultural heritage, cultural revitalization and commodification, repatriation, and public education.
Engaged approaches to archaeological research are more complex than interactions between archaeologists and communities. We will also discuss the different levels or scales of community and their roles in collaborative research. This includes the scholarly community (international collaborations between academics), federal, state and local government agencies, and special interest groups within towns (e.g., artisan guilds, unions, landowners, etc.). Each of these groups has their own responsibilities, obligations, and goals that must be considered.
This roundtable will provide opportunities for archaeologists and community members to share experiences with others in the region who engage in similar kinds of work. This is a chance to create institutional knowledge for future scholars. Community members in particular, are not full-time researchers and do not always have the opportunity to meet with residents or officials from other towns to discuss the role of research in their communities. In addition, community members will share their knowledge and interests, which archaeologists can learn from and consider for future projects. We as archaeologists work with communities in three different regions in Oaxaca and would benefit from an opportunity to learn from the experiences of others.
The outcomes of our conversation will include tangible tools for balancing the goals of different stakeholders (community voices) in archaeological research research design. We intend for these materials to be a resource for scholars hoping to establish and build new relationships with communities or improve existing collaborations. Together, using our collective experience, we will discuss effective strategies that communities and archaeologists can use to balance a diverse array of interests and find common goals. These outcomes will emerge from our experiences in Oaxaca but will have implications for archaeologists working locally in Mesoamerica and globally.