Thursday, October 27, 2016

Archaeologies of Care

I am so thrilled to be part of a panel on "Archaeologies of Care: Rethinking Priorities in Archaeological Engagement" at the annual meetings of the Society of Historical Archaeology in January 2017. The session is organized by Christopher Matthews, whose Archaeology of American Capitalism (2010) was monumental in my research and Richard Rothaus, best known for his work in Greece, Corinth: The First City in Greece (2000), CRM in Minnesota, North Dakota, Turkey, and (while wearing a suit) Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs at the North Dakota University system. We established that Richard coined "archaeologies of care" live on a Caraheard podcast.

The panel includes papers on New York City homelessness (Singleton), oil worker housing in the Bakken (Weber, Caraher, Rothaus), native and African American archaeology in Long Island (Matthews), competing archaeological priorities in the Navajo Nation (Thompson), African American archaeology in central New Jersey (Burton, Markert, Weston), World War II Japanese internment camps in Colorado (Clark) and Arizona (Ozawa), segregation of African-Americans in swimming pools, beaches, and rivers (Mullins, Yimaunu), and the refugee settlements in Greece  (Kourelis). The full program with abstracts here. I especially like the quote in the session abstract, "Writing against the presumption that archaeologists will be defenders of ancient sites destroyed by ISIS militants, some have voiced alternative possibilities for who and what archaeologist are in these settings."

I only wish I could see the sessions on migrant archaeology at the American Association of Anthropology meetings (Minneapolis, Nov. 15-20) organized by Yannis Hamilakis and Jason de Leon.

SYM-009: Archaeologies Of Care: Rethinking Priorities In Archaeological Engagements
Thursday, 05/Jan/2017:

1:30pm - 4:15pm

Session Chair: Richard Rothaus
Session Chair: Christopher N Matthews
Discussant: Carol McDavid
Location: Texas Ballroom D

Session Abstract
Inspired by recent thinking about the role of archaeology in war torn Syria and the ongoing refugee crisis, this session brings together two threads of interest regarding archaeology and archaeologists. Writing against the presumption that archaeologists will be defenders of ancient sites destroyed by ISIS militants, some have voiced alternative possibilities for who and what archaeologist are in these settings. For one, archaeologists are literally boots on the ground working with local people, which leads them to care, or to take seriously the everyday lives of these individuals and communities. Second, this engagement leads to prioritizing the documentation of displaced people over the preservation of sites, since it can very well be our colleagues being displaced. Moreover, we recognize that displacement creates its own elusive materiality that can only be recorded in the moment and by those familiar with the settings and social contexts that forced the decision to leave.

1:30pm - 1:45pm
A Sympathetic Connection: The role of sympathy in an archaeology of contemporary homelessness
Courtney Singleton
Columbia University, United States of America;
Sympathy is a sentiment that involves the recognition of self in another on the grounds of similitude. For archaeologists sympathy is an important concept as it is materially based and allows for communication across various boundaries of difference. Most scholars tend to focus on the body and embodied experience as the grounds for sympathetic connection. However, archaeologists can evoke sympathy in the marked absence of bodies in order to connect across spatial, temporal, and social boundaries through particular objects within particular contexts. This paper will explore sympathy in the context of contemporary homeless encampments in the United States, focusing particularly on an archaeological site in New York City. It is argued that the object of home becomes the sympathetic grounds upon which an archaeology of care connects to larger political issues surrounding displacement and poverty.

1:45pm - 2:00pm
An Archaeology of Care in the Bakken Oil Patch (North Dakota, USA)
Richard Rothaus1, William Caraher2, Bret Weber2
1North Dakota University System, United States of America; 2University of North Dakota, United States of America;
The University of North Dakota Man Camp Project has used archaeology to engage seriously the issues of workforce housing and industrial landscapes in the Bakken. Our work proceeds with a focus not on the ebullience (or catastrophe) of the Bakken, but rather on the material culture of housing in a dynamic extractive landscape. We do not advocate, nor do we analyze or make policy recommendations. Our work in the field epitomizes, however, an archaeology of care for the communities in which we work. Our conversations in the field, attention to detail, and willingness to take seriously the everyday life of individuals and communities create a connection between the wider world (which we represent, oddly enough) and their very personal experience. Our recognition of, and interest in, the agency of individuals buffered by incomprehensibly large forces has value for the academic and non-academic communities.

2:00pm - 2:15pm
Caring Forthe Future With Archaeology
Christopher N Matthews
Montclair State Univeristy, United States of America;
Historical archaeology is a useful method for discovering silenced and hidden pasts that force reconsideration of how the present came to be and at what and who’s expense. This impulse regularly generates deeper appreciations for the power of the past in and over the present. Yet, archaeologists less often move their results forward to engage with the futures that contemporary people, such as descendant and local communities, can make with new archaeological knowledge. This is surprising since a critical study of the past that provides ownership of it to marginal people and groups inherently and simultaneously calls for consideration of who the owns the futures that will be built on such new pasts. Drawing from my research with a descendent nonwhite community in Setauket, New York, I explore the intersection of past and future in the way historical archaeological research has been imagined and practiced.

2:15pm - 2:30pm
Everyday Archaeology on the Navajo Nation
Kerry F. Thompson
Northern Arizona University, United States of America;
The role of archaeology in facilitating everyday life on the Navajo Nation is a day-to-day concern for many Navajo Nation citizens. Citizens and communities of the Navajo Nation and the nation itself engage with archaeology in three ways. Individual citizens require archaeology to secure the necessary permission to build a home on reservation land. For Navajo communities, archaeology is part and parcel with infrastructure and land use planning and development. At the government level archaeology is required for water and land claims litigation, NAGPRA claims, and TCP identification and protection. The traditional disciplinary goals of site preservation, data collection, and furthering knowledge of the past are secondary to these three more immediate needs of the Navajo people. Academics and CRM professionals who fail to recognize these three necessary engagements that Navajo people have with archaeology run the risk of further alienating the people they seek to engage in archaeological research.

2:30pm - 3:00pm
15min presentation + 15min break
Expanding the Dialogue: A Conversation Between Descendent and Archaeologist about Community, Collaboration, and Archaeology at Timbuctoo, NJ
Christopher P. Barton1, Patricia G. Markert2, Guy Weston3
1University of Memphis, United States of America; 2Binghamton University, United States of America;3Timbuctoo Discovery Project, United States of America;
Meaning is not monolithic. Presented here are different narratives on the interests of archaeologists and descendants. Focus is given to the African American community of Timbuctoo. This project, like many other attempts at community archaeology is not a story of unabated triumphs: rather, these narratives are about the challenges that can emerge through collaboration. This is not meant to demean collaborative archaeology, rather it is to underscore that through pragmatic discourse we can uncover an array of meanings for different groups. It is our belief that collaborative archaeology represents the future of archaeological practice.
Central to this future is that there is no template on how to conduct community archaeology. The most fruitful projects have only reached success through years of trial-and-error. Our work at Timbuctoo has been no different. We argue that community archaeology is not just an goal: it is a process, and must be treated as such.

3:00pm - 3:15pm
Passionate Work: Communities of Care and the DU Amache Project
Bonnie J. Clark
University of Denver, United States of America;
Working at Amache, the site of a WWII era Japanese American incarceration camp, involves several facets of an “archeology of care.” First, over five field seasons the University of Denver Amache Project has revealed significant physical evidence of how these displaced people took care of themselves, their families, and their neighbors. Both artifacts and landscape modification speak to many caretaking strategies. Second, the project creates space for the care of stakeholders through opening up the practice of archaeology. This happens through project structure, with High School internships volunteer programs, and an open house day for people with a personal or family tie to the camp. Finally, the work at Amache is geared to caring for a publically accessible site in a way that is sensitive to many communities of concern. By caring for the site and associated museum, we care for multiple heritages.

3:15pm - 3:30pm
Race and the water: the materiality of swimming, sewers and segregation in African America
Paul Mullins1, Timo Ylimaunu2
1IUPUI Dept. of Anthropology, United States of America; 2University of Oulu;
Few dimensions of the color line were monitored as closely as access to American rivers, beaches, and swimming pools, which became strictly segregated in the early 20th century. This paper examines the heritage of color line inequalities in Indianapolis, Indiana's waters, where beaches were segregated, African Americans were restricted to a single city pool, and waterways in African-American neighborhoods still accommodate sewer overflows. Despite that history, a new wave of urbanites is now settling in formerly African-American neighborhoods, displacing historically African-American communities,and reclaiming the waterways without any recognition of the link between race and the water.

3:30pm - 3:45pm
The Archaeology of Refugee Crises in Greece: Diachronic Cultural Landscapes
Kostis Kourelis
Franklin and Marshall College, United States of America;
The escalation of the Syrian Civil War caused a refugee crisis in Greece as thousands of people crossed the Aegean, leading to tragic loss of life. When Balkan neighbors closed their borders in 2016, some 50,000 migrants and refugees were trapped in Greece. The country responded by a dispersing this population throughout the country in new camps over abandoned sites like army camps, tourist resorts, commercial spaces, gymnasia, fair grounds, and even archaeological sites. Using lessons from the archaeology of the contemporary world, we apply remote sensing, media analysis, and limited field observation to document camps in real time and to address ephemeral urbanism. Refugee camps have been a permanent reality in Greece for a century. The paper also considers camps from the 1912-14 Balkan Wars, the 1922 Asia Minor Catastrophe, World War II, and the Greek Civil War and outlines a comparative archaeology of crisis.

3:45pm - 4:00pm
The Gila River Japanese American Incarceration Camp: Thinking With The Past
Koji H. Ozawa
Stanford University, United States of America;
Recent research on the World War II Japanese American Incarceration Camp at Gila River has provided both depth of knowledge to the subject and a forum for community engagement. Archaeology in particular has brought to light the diversity of experiences and the specific physical conditions of this displacement and confinement. Through a thorough examination of the context and materials of the Japanese American Incarceration, archaeological investigation can further our understanding of the effects of the camps on the individuals and the wider community. This paper seeks to show how the theoretical and methodological approaches to this subject can aid in our understanding of displaced peoples in the present. Today, the number of people displaced by conflict or persecution worldwide has risen to over 65 million, the highest number since WWII. Archaeologists are uniquely positioned to engage with these displaced communities, and to bear testimony.

4:00pm - 4:15pm
Carol McDavid
Community Archaeology Research Institute, Inc., United States of America;

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