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


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Theme list | Session organizers index | Accepted sessions list |

T03. Post-colonial Experiences, Archaeological Practice and Indigenous Archaeologies
Uzma Z. Rizvi and Hirofumi Kato
At the core of this theme is a desire to decolonize and critically evaluate ongoing practices that define archaeology. As global efforts to redefine archaeological practice are underway to ensure a more just and equitable practice, past colonial histories of archaeology must be taken into account and re-considered. The coloniality of archaeological practice implicates epistemic violence in which under the guise of ‘science,’ archaeology makes demands upon bodies, landscapes, memories, histories, and heritage. Recent strides in Community Archaeology, Postcolonial Archaeology, and Indigenous Archaeology have attempted to redress many of these concerns, but it is clear there is much more to be done.
Panels considered under this theme should address issues related to decolonization, coloniality, the postcolonial critique, and indigenous archaeologies through an amplification, implementation and consideration of inclusion of local voices, diversity and multiculturalism in context, heritage/heritage management, repatriation, politics of collaboration, benefits flow, reciprocity, power sharing, sustainability, gendering experience and practice, queering archaeology, social memory, post-western archaeologies, among other possible topics. Also of interest are national projects that reinstate colonial expectations, national institutions of archaeology, and linked to that, the manners in which archaeology is taught (pedagogical practices). Additional topics may include policy-making as archaeological process, ideas related to materials as witness as a stance of inclusion and multiplicity of voices, critiques of the coding of traditional versus contemporary art and its relationship to heritage, and postcolonial heritages. We welcome all proposals for panels contending with these issues, including but not limited to interdisciplinary viewpoints/authors, non-archaeologists, and non-traditional formats.


Analyzing architecture and the built environment in the postcolonial era

Organiser(s): Marta Lorenzon (University of Edinburgh / UK) and Jessica Nitschke (Stellenbosch University / South Africa)
Type: Symposium
Contact:  M.Lorenzon(at)sms.ed.ac.uk
Architecture plays a key role in defining and expressing identities, as it is a reflection of people’s belief, thoughts, and a projection of their own cultural viewpoint. Western archaeological practices, however, have tended to produce worrying uniform interpretations, employing outdated diffusionist models of cultural progress to describe and analyze architecture and relying on vague and reductive terminology like ‘westernization’. This is especially the case for architecture and urban environments that developed in the wake of colonial encounters. Postcolonial perspectives challenging this have developed in recent years in Asia and Australia and address issues central to the discipline. This session aims at furthering this approach by investigating the multiplicity of perspectives of architecture, especially those of the subaltern, and interrogating how the concept of archaeology of architecture can be informed by postcolonial theory. We invite papers from a wide range of geographic and historical contexts that problematize the issues at hand through concrete case studies. Themes of interest include the role of architecture in the negotiation of power and identity; the evolution and reciprocal impact of polite and vernacular architectures; critical appraisals of postcolonial theory as applied to architecture; decolonization of architectural aesthetics; alternate archaeological interpretations of the same architecture.
Keywords: postcolonial, archaeology of architecture, comparative archaeologies


Archaeology and the frontiers of capitalism

Organiser(s): Andrés Zarankin (Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais / Brazil) and Alejandro Haber  (Universidad de Catamarca / Argentina)
Type: Symposium
Contact:  zarankin(at)yahoo.com
Capitalism is a mode of socio-economic production and a civilizational project characterized by its expansive tendencies. We are interested in exploring the territories where the epistemic, geographic and social terrains of capitalist expansion are negotiated and contested, that is, the frontiers of capitalism. Epistemic and social conflicts emerge most clearly in these frontiers where archaeology has been present for centuries, visiting and researching, and countering or supporting capitalist expansion through engagement in the various projects of resistance or imposition of hegemonic values. Often, the “archaeology of capitalism” and the “archaeology for capitalism” (usually defined as “archaeology for development”) are analyzed separately within the discipline, curtailing our critical capacity to reflect upon frontier archaeology. Postcolonial theories provide new opportunities to critically address the agency of archaeology in the expansion of capitalism.
Accordingly, this session welcomes contributions that engage with themes related to archaeology in frontier areas, including:
–   The licensing of frontier areas for capitalist exploitation, the construction of infrastructures or heritage tourism.
–    Local livelihoods and perceptions of the relationships between archaeology and capitalism.
–    Processes of archaeological and/or local resistance, indiscipline or collaboration.
–    Anthropologies of archaeological practice.
Keywords: heritage, capitalism, postcoloniality


Practicing archaeology in a “post”-colonial world: experiences from the field, industry, and academia.

Organiser(s): Veronica Perez Rodriguez (University at Albany SUNY / USA), Akira Igarashi (Tokyo Met. Archaeological Center / Japan) and Kelley Hayes-Gilpin (Northern Arizona University / USA)
Type: Symposium
Contact:  vperezrodriguez(at)albany.edu
Archaeology’s colonial history is no secret. To move forward we must discuss how colonial legacies are still present in the discipline and in the ways we practice it.
Archaeologists from developing countries and indigenous backgrounds are seldom able to practice archaeology abroad, especially in developed countries. And professionals working in their own developing countries may practice archaeology in ways that support colonial legacies of resource extraction, discrimination, and disenfranchisement. Archaeologists from developed countries may enjoy greater opportunities to practice archaeology abroad and due to their privileged condition their work is often conducted in their dominant languages and in settings that cater to them. Some are aware of the colonial legacies that favor them and work to engage with this reality and improve archaeological practices, but how? Also significant are the languages and formats in which the discipline is discussed.
We invite papers from a wide range of geographic/temporal contexts and multiple voices to reflect on the postcolonial issues facing archaeology and archaeologists in academia, the field, and industry. We welcome the perspectives of practitioners whose heritage and experiences stem from living in colonized communities and realities and the perspectives of archaeologists from privileged backgrounds who strive to practice community-engaged and politically-aware archaeology.
Keywords:  archaeology, colonialism, global


Archaeological theory and practice, and its relationship
with Indigenous Communities

Organiser(s): Patricia Ayala (College of the Atlantic / USA), Daniella Jofré (University of Toronto / Canada) and Fernanda Kalazich (Fundacion Desierto de Atacama / Chile)
Type: Symposium
Contact:  procabado(at)coa.edu
Public archaeology and its diverse subfields aim to contribute to society by including social actors who have been marginalised from the process of construction of discourses about the past. One of such actors are Indigenous Peoples, and the relationship we establish as archaeologists by researching in their traditional native territories or cultural heritage presents a series of challenges, mostly related to the existing gap between archaeology and practice. In theory, we navigate among concepts such as decolonisation, participation and place of enunciation, using them to build discourses guided by good intentions and ethics, problematizing our own relationship with the colonial origins of the archeological discipline. However, when doing fieldwork with Indigenous Communities, the translation of these theoretical concepts into the archaeological practice is complex and sometimes even impossible.
This session aims to explore and discuss, based on successful and failed experiences, ways in which to bridge the gap between theory and practice, as a way of constructing new discourses about the past that reflect the notions of inclusion and participation that can be enunciated from the start. In doing this, and drawing on different fields of expertise, we hope to contribute to a growing awareness within archaeology and its subfields worldwide.
Keywords: Archaeology and Indigenous Peoples; Public Archaeology; Archaeological Theory and Practice


Histories of Collecting and Futures of Collections – Museums, Revitalization and Repatriation

Organiser(s): Carl-Gösta Ojala (Uppsala University / Sweden), Birgitta Fossum (Saemien Sijte – South Sámi Museum and Cultural Centre / Norway) and Eeva-Kristiina Harlin (University of Oulu / Finland)
Type: Symposium
Contact:  carl-gosta.ojala(at)arkeologi.uu.se
The aim of this session is to explore histories of collecting and debates on the management of cultural heritage and collections of material culture – with special focus on collections from colonial/postcolonial, indigenous and minority group contexts – and to discuss challenges and possibilities of “opening up” museum collections and developing new approaches and practices of collaboration between museums and local and indigenous communities.
We invite contributions discussing, for instance, contested collections and controversial histories of collecting, roles of museums in contemporary societies, the meaning and importance of
collections of material culture for local and indigenous communities, alternative narratives of collected objects, the importance of local and traditional knowledge for museums, revitalization movements, activism and struggles for cultural rights, and repatriation processes. We also encourage participants to explore ethical and political aspects of heritage management and cultural property issues, roles and responsibilities of archaeologists and museum professionals,
as well as visions for new ways of managing, using and “opening up” existing collections.
We aim for an open discussion, with different perspectives, standpoints and experiences, and therefore welcome presentations from scholars, museum professionals, members of local and indigenous communities, and others, discussing case studies from different
geographical and historical contexts.
Keywords: Histories of museum collections, material culture, local and indigenous communities, revitalization, restitution, repatriation


Beyond the African Burial Ground Symposium II: Reclaiming and Interpreting the African Diasporic Past

Organiser(s): Michael L. Blakey (Institute for Historical Biology, College of William and Mary / USA), Autumn R. Barrett (Institute for Historical Biology, College of William and Mary / USA) and Grace Turner (Antiquities, Monuments & Museum Corporation / Bahamas)
Type: Symposium
Contact: mlblak(at)wm.edu
The New York African Burial Ground Project that studied an 18th century African cemetery in downtown Manhattan always recognized its positioning within complex currents of a critical social history of scholarship. Established in 1992, the Project synthesized mutual values of memorialization and research in a program empowered by New York’s “descendant community” seeking to disable white supremacy in anthropological constructions of African American memory. The result was an unparalleled ethnically integrated, interdisciplinary research team led by African Americans, ancestral reclamation and reburial, erection of a US National Monument and a Visitor Center, to tell the story of “enslaved Africans” in New York.
Symposium II considers site interpretations, monuments, and memorials as methods of dialog and community-building that are influenced by the ethics and theory of public engagement in archaeological practice. Publicly engaged research designs and language, including “descendant communities,” continue to resonate in American archaeology, and beyond. How might its products change or improve people’s lived experience through representations of their pasts? What processes are shared by archaeological projects in the African Diaspora and by historical anthropologists engaging descendant communities? Beyond a retrospective, we focus on processes and products reflecting the current moment in the politics of the past, and theoretical and public implications for the future.
Keywords: site interpretations, monuments, community-building, ethics



Repatriation in art and creative media: critical and creative responses to repatriation

Organiser(s): Cressida Fforde (National Centre for Indigenous Studies, ANU / Australia) and Neil Carter (Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre / Australia)
Type: Symposium
Contact: cressida.fforde(at)anu.edu.au
Repatriation is attracting great interest from Indigenous artists who are engaging creatively and critically with the many issues that repatriation and reburial bring to the fore. Their work not only pushes the boundaries of repatriation studies but enables new insight, reflection and conceptual understanding. In this session artists and art historians present their work and consider the importance of creative media in understanding the implications, influence and history of Indigenous engagement in repatriation.

Keywords: Repatriation, Museums, Indigenous Groups,  Art, Artists


The Repatriation Archive

Organiser(s): Gavan McCarthy (University of Melbourne / Australia) and Tim McKeown (ANU / USA)
Type: Symposium
Contact: gavan.mccarthy(at)unimelb.edu.au
This session considers the archive that is so intrinsic to repatriation – the documents and manuscripts that are associated with Indigenous human remains.  With minimal exceptions, scholarship has focussed on the collections of Ancestral Remains themselves, and the associated documents have been consulted as significant but ancillary sources of information. However, it has become clear that the repatriation archive is itself worthy of much greater scholarship – from the methodological opportunities they contain, the issues surrounding contestation of access to museum archives, the complexities that surround the practicalities of information management in the repatriation process, and the development of Indigenous protocols for the management of culturally sensitive archives. This session considers the depth of information within, and the importance of the repatriation archive for, Indigenous history,  presents the work of Indigenous scholars who critically and creatively engage with the complex and confronting history it presents, and discusses the complexities of managing and accessing archives of sensitivity.
Keywords: Repatriation, Museums, Indigenous Groups


The Effects of Repatriation: Healing and Wellbeing

Organiser(s): Cresside Fforde (Australian National University/ Australia), Honor Keeler (Association on American Indian Affairs/USA) and Steve Hemming (Flinders University/ Australia)
Type: Symposium
Contact: cressida.fforde(at)anu.edu.au
This session considers the effects of the return of Ancestral Remains. Indigenous communities have now received the returned remains of hundreds of individuals and all engage in lengthy social, economic, cultural and logistical processes to do so – all within the context of other pressing responsibilities. While familiar with the spiritual and religious reasons why Ancestral Remains should be returned, community-based practitioners are increasingly aware that the effects and opportunities it provides, as well as the challenges it must solve, are found across a broad range of social, cultural, and economic spheres. These include: healing and wellbeing; cultural transmission and knowledge exchange; education and engagement; Caring for Country and natural resource management programs; social determinants of health; relationship building with cultural institutions, landholders and government; and reconciliation initiatives and native title. This session contributes further understanding about the effects of repatriation, with particular focus on wellbeing and community development initiatives.
Keywords: Repatriation, Museums, Indigenous groups


Global Networks of Removal: Interrogating international acquisition of ancestral remains and heritage resources in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Organiser(s): Amber Aranui (Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa / New Zealand), Zacharys A. Gundu (Ahmadu Bello University / Nigeria), Paul Turnbull (University of Tasmania / Australia) and Cressida Fforde (Australian National Museum / Australia)
Type: Symposium
Contact: ambera(at)tepapa.govt.nz
The presence of indigenous ancestral human remains, sacred objects and other profoundly important cultural artifacts in Western museums and universities is an unresolved legacy of European colonialism.  While many institutions have now agreed to repatriate human remains, others refuse, while requests for the return of artifacts are contested on the grounds that they are legitimately possessed. This complicates repatriation demands and undermines the rights of claimant communities to regain, freely enjoy and interpret their culture, heritage and history.
This panel explores key aspects of colonial collecting of human remains and artifacts of profound significance. We explore how they were acquired, and ask, what motivated collectors?  We consider the entanglement of collecting in colonial ambitions and violence. Importantly, we ask what implications this history has for how we decide the fate of human remains, sacred objects and other profoundly important cultural artifacts that indigenous peoples and post-colonial nations want returned.
Keywords: Ancestral human remains, museums, collections, sacred artefacts, cultural heritage, repatriation and art producing countries.


Repatriation, Identity and Negotiating the Future.

Organiser(s): Hemming Steve (Flinders University / Australia), Sumner Major (Ngarrindjeri Regional Authority / Australia), David Ned (Gur a Baradharaw Kod Torres Strait Sea and Land Council / Australia) and Cressida Fforde (Australian National Museum / Australia)
Type: Symposium
Contact: steve.hemming(at)flinders.edu.au
Repatriation consistently engages with issues of identity. Whether in relation to the initial acquisition of remains for the study of racial difference, to the construction of preconceived notions of racial identities that were ‘mapped’ on to the remains by craniologists, to the repatriation of ancestral remains based on their identity (including identities established through biological and social mechanisms) to identity politics that may occur in the repatriation process, and the strengthening of identity that can occur in reburial. Key to repatriation is the transition of control. This session considers repatriation, transition of control and self-determination focussed on identity and how these issues have been navigated by Indigenous nations, communities and organisations involved in repatriation processes.
Keywords: Repatriation, Museums, Indigenous groups


Repatriation and its Progress, Processes and Problems

Organiser(s): Dorothyr Lippert (Smithsonian Institution / USA) and Jayne-Leigh Thomas (Indiana University / USA)
Type: Symposium
Contact: dorothytlippert(at)gmail.com
It has been nearly 30 years since the Vermilion Accords and repatriation has become a fact of life for archaeologists in all parts of the world.  This session will review the initial perception of repatriation as a destructive force in archaeology and highlight some of the new ways in which Indigenous people have worked to protect and share cultural heritage. Case studies will illustrate how new technologies, such as DNA analysis, are used to address to repatriation questions as well as critiquing their application. The presentation of global differences in the progress, processes and problems associated with repatriation are expected to reveal how repatriation can best move forward.
Although Jayne-Leigh and I are both based in the United States, I am a Choctaw citizen (Native American) and she is white. At the present time, the potential presenters are roughly 3/4 Indigenous.
Keywords: Repatriation, Indigenous Archaeology, Genetics


Indigenous Experiences  and Histories in Repatriation

Organiser(s): Wendy Teeter (Fowler Museum at UCLA / USA), Dorothy Lippert (National Museum of Natural History / USA), Daryle Rigney (Flinders University / Australia) and Ned David (Torres Strait Sea and Land Council / Australia)
Type: Symposium
Contact: wteeter(at)arts.ucla.edu
The aim of this session is to situate dialog about repatriation away from western conventions and into Indigenous-led issues and discussions from across the globe. Within museums and institutions, repatriation can be a job, but for Indigenous communities it is about ancestors, cultural patrimony, and cultural heritage. What is often considered to be an accepted narrative within dominant society, must be constantly proven and verified to and by outside members of the dominant society in order to gain control over their pasts. By foregrounding these issues, perhaps dominant societies can learn to show more compassion and understanding, while other communities may be inspired. Potential presentations will be by, Indigenous representatives working on repatriation within countries where their indigeneity is acknowledged and where it is not. Topics could include economics, identity, cultural recognition between the past and present, protection of the dead, cultural/social norms and priorities within sovereign nations, practice and the analytic, roles of science, the body as sovereign, role of conservation and preservation, importance of landscape and place, language, and so many other areas. Like the poor historical understanding about the past removal of remains, the current dearth of community histories about repatriation reflects a broader absence of Indigenous history (and its celebration) in national narratives. Given the unique and unparalleled experience of Indigenous people in achieving the return of human remains from museums, and the impact of such removal and return, the Indigenous histories of repatriation presented in this session are a new and critical contribution to understanding and documenting repatriation.


A Global Movement: Repatriation Reflections from Around the World

Organiser(s): Tim McKeown (Australian National University / Australia), Amber Aranui (Te Papa Tongarewa / New Zealand) and Paul Tapsell
Type: Symposium
Contact: smallerscope(at)msn.com
Repatriation is an experience shared by Indigenous peoples globally. Yet there has been minimal international collaboration to research the shared theoretical and applied aspects of repatriation, nor to understand more localised and culturally specific dimensions of the removal of remains or the history and impact of their return. This session includes presentations from leading repatriation practitioners who examine the achievements and challenges of the past forty years, including co-authored papers by museum curators and community members who explore what has been learned since repatriation discussions commenced.


Session 6: Museums and Communities working together: shared reflections on repatriation

Organiser(s): Mike Pickering (National Museum of Australia / Australia) and Major Sumner (Ngarrindjeri Regional Authority / Australia)
Type: Symposium
Contact: m.pickering(at)nma.gov.au
Repatriation has historically been presented as a polarised debate that pits Museums and Communities against one another with mutually exclusive values, perceptions and approaches. Repatriation in practice can tell a very different story, that speaks also to the role of repatriation as a mechanism of reconciliation. This section seeks joint papers from museum and community groups reflecting on the joint experience of repatriation and what has developed out of this relationship.
Keywords: Repatriation, Museums, Indigenous groups