WAC Workshop: Archaeology & Local Communities

Taller: Arqueología y Comunidades locales

Coordinadores: Wilhelm Londoño, Universidad del Magdalena,wilhelmlondono@gmail.com  y Luís Gerardo Franco, Universidad del Cauca,luisge7@hotmail.com


In this workshop we want to get together some central actors in the relationships that archaeology has had with local communities. These relationships are multiple, the actors are positioned in different power loci, and several strategies of dispersion and escape are in operation; therefore, mapping their logic is futile. The study of such relationships must not be based on research topics but on narratives of what has been shared on time and space. This goal has an antecedent. In April, 2008 Kogi leaders of northern Colombia got together with a Nasa leader from the southern part of the country to share their ideas about “national archaeological areas.” In the event, attended by a wide audience at the University of Magdalena and supported by WAC, surfaced anew, no as a linguistic but as a political problem, the fact that neither the Kogi nor the Nasa have the idea of a national archaeological park in their languages.

These examples do not exhaust the diversity of situations experienced by local communities regarding their own landscapes. Recently the historic materiality of afro-descendant cultures has begun to emerge as a political and epistemological preoccupation. Now that decolonization and interculturality are frequently talked about in Colombia it is mandatory to solve the paradoxes obtaining between communitarism and statalization. This workshop pretends to problematize such a tension, to explore points of encounter, and to review common agendas. The participants are thus encouraged to present ethical reflections about how archaeologists should relate to local communities in the wider context of decolonization.


The participants will present brief position papers about his/her experience on the relationship between archaeology and local communities.

Position papers

: Wilhelm Londoño, University of Magdalena (wilhelmlondono@gmail.com), and Luís Gerardo Franco, University of Cauca (luisge7@hotmail.com)

This presentation will introduce the purpose of the workshop, the construction of a common agenda for archaeologists and local communities around two basic criteria: legal, political, cultural, and territorial autonomy of the communities, and decolonization of archaeological practice.

Archaeology and local communities in Australia: Claire Smith, Flinders University and WAC (Claire.smith@flinders.edu.au).
This presentation will talk about the relationship between indigenous communities and archaeologists in Australia having in mind the articulations that have allowed the construction of mutual agendas, in which community interests are central. It will also show how such experiences have fed the work of the World Archaeological Congress.

Arqueología Suramericana: multivocality and interculturality: Cristóbal Gnecco, University of Cauca (cgnecco@unicauca.edu.co), and Alejandro Haber, National University of Catamarca (afhaber@gmail.com).

The presentation, drawn from the intentions and expectations of a South American journal of archaeology, will deal with the contemporary contexts in which the discipline unfolds and about its relations with other forms of thought. The interest is centered in the interlocutions with local communities.

Archaeology according to the Nasa community: Juan Carlos Piñacué, Nasa Community-University of Cauca (pinxakwe@yahoo.es), and Manuel Sisco, Cauca Regional Indigenous Council (manuelsisco@yahoo.com).

This communication will show the sense of emptiness of the Nasa community when it tries to assume politically what archaeological practice can offer; this emptiness is also visible in archaeologists when they fail to establish dialogues and to carry out participatory researcher and mutual collaboration. To correct this emptiness the Nasa must construct an ample agenda of coordination with local authorities through which the socialization of such an endeavor can occur.

The “lost” city of the Kogi: Julio Barragan, Gonawindúa Tayrona (juliomarinob@hotmail.com) and Ramón Gil, Wiwa community (tallerdearqueologia@gmail.com).

Teyuna, popularly known as “the lost city,” is one of the most important sacred sites of the four indigenous communities of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. Since when it was discover by the archaeologists in 1976, the Mamas (main indigenous) have requested to the Colombian State its devolution to the community in order to plan the access and the use of this sacred site, mother of the tumas (sacred rocks).


Afroamerican archaeology: a view from Nóvita, Chocó: Francisco López, National University of Colombia (fralopezca@gmail.com), Janeth Nieto, Universisty of Caldas (diabla966@gmail.com), and Rafael Pereachalá, National University of Colombia (kuembe62@yahoo.es).

This talk will present a state-of-the-art of afroamerican archaeology based on research on several parts of Colombia and elsewhere. It is hoped that this presentation will open a discussion about the archaeology of afro-descendant societies.

¿Viceversa? San Basilio de Palenque and the archaeological task: rethinking borders: Enrique Márquez, San Basilio de Palenque (tallerdearqueologia@gmail.com),  Manuel Pérez, San Basilio de Palenque (tallerdearqueologia@gmail.com), Jesús Pérez Palomino, San Basilio de Palenque (jesusperezpalomino@gmail.com), and Johana Caterina Mantilla, Erigaie Foundation (caterina.rojo@gmail.com).

Archaeology is no more the science about the ruins of ancient civilizations. Communities inhabiting archaeological places once considered alien to contemporary social and political dynamics nowadays play a fundamental role in discussing the situation of the discipline. To what extent and how an equitable communication between archaeology, and communities is being developed? The work carried out with the community of San Basilio of Palenque is one of many endeavors through which the borders of such a communication has been reformulated in order to build joint horizons for both actors, no matter how different their languages and world views might be.

Declaration and discussion.