• Temple in the mountains, Japan / Luke Zeme / CC BY-NC-SA; https://flic.kr/p/dy7snP


Theme 04: Archaeological Ethics: Where Are We Now?

Anne Pyburn (Indiana University), Joanne Farchakh Bajjaly’s (Archeologia) and Marcia Bezerra (Sociedade de Arqueologia Brasilia)

The World Archaeological Congress was born when Peter Ucko encouraged an international group of archaeologists to accept their responsibility to social justice and take a principled stand against South African apartheid and all kinds of political oppression. Following this watershed event, Archaeology has undergone a revolution in professional practice resulting from and further instigating changes in both method and theory. Many of the important changes in the discipline are related to a new sense of ethical responsibility to archaeology’s many publics, and the recognition that among these constituencies are important heritage experts besides academic and scholarly specialists. Archaeologists themselves have been led into active engagement with topics that archaeologists of the last generation mostly strove to avoid, and now routinely engage in economic development, community based research, Indigenous rights movements, critiques and protests addressing heritage and nationalism, and the politics of preservation, tourism, and UNESCO. Many previous congress sessions have addressed the rise of such efforts but now it is time for a discussion and reconsideration of the successes and failures stemming from the WAC revolution. Sessions comprising the WAC-8 Theme “Archaeological Ethics: Where Are We Now?” will take the next step and begin to review, analyze, and evaluate the successes and failures of archaeologists’ efforts to reach new levels of social responsibility and political engagement over the 30 years since Peter Ucko turned archaeology’s responsibility for the past to the future.

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