This theme invites scholarship that creates indigenous spaces in archaeological and anthropological knowledge production, thus shifting the borders and boundaries of history, bodies, geographies, and politics. These boundaries have existed throughout historical processes of knowledge production and academic pursuits. Indigenous and indigenous-oriented scholars are challenging, pushing, and crossing these borders and boundaries in both their homelands and academic disciplines. The current diversity of perspectives on indigenous experiences of archaeological research simultaneously challenges community and institutional practitioners to articulate legitimate alternative narratives of archaeological history and colonization. Peripheral interests are at the core of forging new intellectual terrain on the tensions which characterize alternative and privileged debate and interpretation. For indigenous scholars, peoples, and nations, telling stories of their own histories facilitates a movement towards emancipation, self-determination, and decolonization. Through specific practice indigenous scholars empower traditional methodologies of oral history, indigenous sciences, and ways of knowing, to inform knowledge construction and insight into past and present experiences of representation.
Repatriation – Moving Forward
Repatriation has moved forward considerably in the last 10 years; not only for indigenous communities, but also for the countries and institutions who are agreeing to repatriate ancestral remains and other culturally significant objects back to their communities.
Though there is still much debate on this issue, the ability to initiate dialogue and even work together is now a reality.
This session will look closely at these issues, not only from an indigenous perspective, but also from those institutions who wish to talk about their experiences of repatriation.
Disputed territories. Repatriation of our ancestors (Territorios en disputa. Una lucha por la restitución de nuestros ancestors)
Ivana Carina Jofré (Universidad Nacional de Catamarca, Argentine Republic)
The processes of patrimonialisation archaeological of the remains of the living memory of indigenous peoples or indigenous mean expropriation through different intervention mechanisms operated by State actors, multilateral organizations, private companies, etc. Claims for the restitution to the land of our ancestors bodies today revitalize the struggle for territory in a broader sense of the term, as a way of reaffirming our identities in a common place of historical membership in the Argentina Republic.
Los procesos de patrimonialización arqueológica de los restos de la memoria viva de los Pueblos Indígenas u Originarios significan su expropiación a través de distintos mecanismos de intervención operados por agentes estatales, organismos multilaterales, empresas privadas, etc. Los reclamos por la restitución a la tierra de los cuerpos de nuestros ancestros, llevados a los museos por arqueólogos comisionados por las universidades y los estados, revitalizan hoy la lucha por el territorio en un sentido más amplio del término, como una manera de reafirmación de nuestras identidades en un lugar común de pertenencia histórica en la República Argentina.
Indigenous Archaeology, Decolonizing Indigenous Histories
Paulette Steeves (Binghamton University, United States of America)
Historical and contemporary archaeological practices of inventing histories of the colonized are often discussed in critical studies literature as; legitimizing the power of the colonizer and illegitimizing the “indigenaity” of the colonized. This is reflected in archaeological discussions which minimize the times frames of indigenous habitation of colonized areas, and deny the validity of indigenous memories of the past. Many archaeologically based histories of indigenous people work to rupture connections between contemporary indigenous populations, and their stated ancestral homelands and heritage. This is a practice which denies the possibilities of indigenous continuity in local and regional areas, and therefore denies a history which may support indigenous people’s rights to repatriation of lands and items of cultural heritage. This session seeks to open dialogue on the scholarship of indigenous archaeologists and their colleagues, with a focus on decolonization of the indigenous past. This session also seeks to discuss the benefits of an inclusive field which creates spaces from and through which we can critique, challenge, and rethink discipline and the production of knowledge on and about indigenous people and places.
Public Urban Spaces Of Erasure
Paulette Steeves (Binghamton University, United States of America)
Public urban spaces become the canvas upon which nation states construct representations of acceptable social memories. Public spaces that display such constructed social memories also function as sites which erase histories of the colonialization of indigenous cultures. Discussions on decolonizing urban spaces of public memory have not historically been addressed in archaeology on a global basis. Generally the violent history of colonization, and the concepts of decolonization and liberation have been all but ignored in archaeological and academic knowledge production. This session will focus on scholarship which addresses the impacts of politically constructed public spaces of memory and erasure, in contemporary urban spaces. Secondly this session seeks to present scholarship which address the possible benefits of decolonizing knowledge production, and informing, liberating, and redesigning urban spaces which become canvases of public social memories inclusive of indigenous voices and representations of the past and present.
Indigenous People- Theory and practice
This session invites scholars to discuss the concept of Indigenous as well as its practical implications in various regions of the world. In order to look closely at these two issues we call upon our colleagues to refer to the following questions:
1-Does the term Indigenous consist of various forms of difference including historical situations, class, gender, ethnicity, etc.?
2 – What are the limitations of the term Indigenous in specific historical situations?
3- Does the term Indigenous apply to a diverse constellation of responses to dwelling-in-displacement?
4–What are the practical implications of the above theoretical concept in different regions of the world?
5-Can the specific historical situation of South American Indigenous groups be compared with other minorities and diasporic temporalities dwelling in displacement elsewhere?
6-How can the term Indigenous be applied to minorities and diasporic groups living in the Middle East?
Ideally we expect 6 participants in this session in order to be able to discuss each paper.
The Politics of Recognition: Concepts and Strategies
A problem in many dominant ‘community’ heritage studies is that they favour a nostalgic and homogenous cultural view, restricting recognition of social justice and leading to a lack of meaningful community engagement with heritage. This has negative consequences for Indigenous communities wanting to assert alternative views. For example, contestation arises around Australian heritage landscapes, where features classified as ‘natural’ by European observers are also part of a network of symbolic relationships relating to the Dreaming of the Aboriginal ancestors, differences which can lead to divergent trajectories for cultural heritage management and interpretation. Fraser (2001:21) argues for a philosophy of “recognition”, where “difference-friendly” societies seek a world where assimilation to cultural norms is “no longer the price of equal respect”. Fraser then proposes that the ‘status of group members as full partners in social interaction’ (Fraser 2001: 24) is key to improved community engagement.
How can this concept find expression in diverse cultural and political contexts? What is ‘recognition’ in community cultural heritage and what strategies can promote social justice? We invite presentations developing theoretical or practical understandings of the concept of the politics of recognition or reporting on strategies for fostering equitable community engagement that is meaningful to diverse communities.
Decolonizing the ranks: using Indigenous and decolonizing pedagogies in teaching, mentorship, and training
Sara L. Gonzalez (Carleton College, United States of America)
Decolonization provides a process for thinking about the ways that our research can and does matter (and to whom?). It involves thinking through the wider implications of the craft of archaeology and examining how the process of interpreting and representing the past is both deeply meaningful and politically powerful. It also entails a willingness to think beyond the traditional scope of research, focusing not solely on the products or results of archaeology, but also on how the process of collaboration offers spaces to empower, benefit, and advocate for communities. What results from asking a basic question—How and to whom will I make my research matter?—is something that is potentially transformative, for when we highlight our accountability to both discipline and community we change what the goal of science can and should be. Envisioned thusly, archaeology becomes a tool for increasing our understanding of the past and our ability to empower individuals and communities through that knowledge.
In this session we will consider the role of decolonization in the classroom. We invite participants to examine how engaging with indigenous and/or decolonizing pedagogies has transformed the ways in which you train and mentor the next generation of heritage professionals.