Archaeology and Heritage in the Contemporary World

Date/Time: 
Saturday, May 8, 2021 - 12:00pm to 1:30pm
(EDT)
Room: 
1
Organizer(s): 
  • Stephanie Halmhofer, University of Alberta, Institute for Prairie and Indigenous Archaeology
Contact Email: 
Presentations
12:00 PM: Belongings Held in Trust: Indigenous Cultural Heritage and B.C.’s Community Museums
Author(s):
  • Lindsay Foreman

For over two decades, I have been involved in the excavation, collection, analysis, organization, conservation, and interpretation of ‘Canadian’ Indigenous Cultural Heritage. Commonly described as artifacts and ecofacts by archaeologists, ancestral belongings and material culture items recovered from the ground’s surface or below it, are deeply connected to contemporary Indigenous ways of being and knowing. Community heritage institutions do not always reflect this cultural continuity and dynamism in their exhibitions, programs, and discussions of the Indigenous communities within whose traditional unceded territories they are situated. We must all work together to move forward in a good way to eliminate this disconnection, to be more mindful of how we collect, handle, interpret, and store Indigenous Cultural Heritage (both tangible and intangible), and to be more transparent about the ‘collections’ that we hold in trust for all of our community members.

My archaeological career has included stints with academic institutions, in the private sector, in community museums, and most recently, with Indigenous organizations. The care, analysis, and interpretation of ‘collections’ of Indigenous Cultural Heritage is the common thread between all of these opportunities. Here I share some insights gained through my recent work with several community museums in British Columbia.

12:05 PM: Excavating the Crystal Palace: Victorian Popular Culture in Twenty-First-Century Archaeological Media
Author(s):
  • Kevin McGeough - University of Lethbridge

The emergence of archaeology as a professional discipline in the 19th century coincided with an explosion of new forms of popular media. Archaeology was represented in many of these media forms - in periodicals, novels, panoramas, theatres, expositions, and even the rituals of secret societies. Archaeology inspired authors like H. Rider Haggard and designers like Owen Jones and their representations of archaeology in popular culture have inspired significant thinking about the discipline. Their representations of archaeology were part of the process of articulating the study of ancient material culture as an academic discipline.

The representations of archaeology in 21st-century popular culture bear striking similarities to their Victorian predecessors. Many of the same themes and issues that are explored in popular archaeological representations now were established in Victorian times. Some similarities reflect structural issues implicit in the media. Others reflect continued concerns such as understanding the self and the other. And some unwittingly reify outmoded archaeological thinking, entangled with colonialist, gendered, and racist ideologies.  This paper seeks to explore the 19th century roots of contemporary archaeological popular representation.

12:10 PM: Finding the Best Policy – Disclosure reduces conflict and builds trust, it really is that simple.
Author(s):
  • Gareth Spicer - Turtle Island CRM

At the Canadian Archaeological Conference in 2017, I presented on the management history of the Fort Edmonton Cemetery as it related to the Walterdale Bridge Replacement Project.  The success of the indigenous engagement and consultation work related to that project was a catalyst for stakeholders in the Edmonton area to assess many long standing indigenous consultation and engagement assumptions.  As a follow up to this presentation, I will outline the results of an ongoing utility infrastructure project in the North Saskatchewan River Valley.  As a result of this project, the position of provincial regulators as the gate keepers of cultural resource information has been brought into question.  I will outline how the selective disclosure of cultural resource information prevents community stakeholders from assessing the information required in support of informed cultural resource decisions.  As result, the decision to withhold cultural resource information was exploited to create conflict and mistrust in the aid of a special interest.  I will assert that regulatory decisions that by default withhold cultural resource information, without consideration of the consequences, result in poor public management decisions.

12:15 PM: Hidden Costs: An Analysis of the Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Canadian Archaeology Students
Author(s):
  • Catherine  Jalbert - Texas Historical Commission
  • Lisa Overholtzer - McGill University

Emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic has unquestionably altered many aspects of daily life and has laid bare the structural inequalities that exist within our society. As researchers begin to examine how immediate pandemic-related impacts are unfolding across various disciplines, early studies draw the same conclusion: if mitigation strategies are not developed, students and early career researchers, particularly those who hold marginalized identities, could encounter lasting consequences. In this paper, we add to this growing body of data by illuminating the experiences of Canadian archaeology students using preliminary results from our 2021 survey (n=90/280 total). We argue that students, especially BIPOC and first-generation, are among the most vulnerable to the current effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing uncertainty created by this crisis. Areas of concern include field school cancellations, delays in fieldwork/labwork for program completion, isolation from their peers and mentors, lack of networking, and how these combined factors may affect future prospects on an increasingly unstable job market. Two primary questions will guide our conclusions: how do we lessen effects on students in the present, and how do we combat long-term impacts which may hinder entry and participation in archaeology by students in the future?

12:50 PM: Inclusive Narratives in the Pre-Modern North Atlantic
Author(s):
  • Shannon Lewis-Simpson - Memorial University

Our interpretations of archaeological L’Anse aux Meadows and to an extent the eastern Arctic have been heavily influenced by Old Norse saga accounts, which have in turn been interpreted, translated, & promoted through the 19th century lens of systemic colonialism. The concept that the "Vikings"  “discovered” North America is a colonial, Eurocentric view of origins, highly problematic and erases Indigenous voices and agency, yet this narrative continues to be promulgated in trade books and popular interpretations. The dual concepts of terra nullius and doctrine of discovery are so ingrained in our archaeological and historical studies that it is impossible for this academic discourse not to be politicized as it is framed as one of discovery in the saga text and popular imagination. What needs to be acknowledged is that these Old Norse accounts do not constitute a singular narrative of exploration and discovery, but a narrative of the land, of murder, of exchange, rejection of technology, kidnapping, and forced conversion. This exclusion, this mythmaking, leading to a Nordic ideal, misreads the past. It is time to decentre the narrative. This paper will consider ways to do that, by working together.

12:55 PM: Myth-Taking and Myth-Making: Exploring the Use of Pseudoarchaeology in Lost City Explorers and Arkworld
Author(s):
  • Stephanie Halmhofer - University of Alberta

Pop culture can be a powerful medium for sharing archaeology and inspiring interest in our field. But what happens when that archaeological information being shared is incorrect? What happens when it’s not archaeology being shared, but rather pseudoarchaeology? This presentation aims to explore those questions, using two comic series – Lost City Explorers and Arkworld – as examples. Both comics feature the mythical city of Atlantis, a city popular among non-archaeologists and pseudoarchaeologists alike. In addition, Atlantis has more recently been adopted by conspiracy theory and alt-right movements. This presentation will look at how Atlantis is featured in Lost City Explorers and Arkworld. It will look at how these series may reinforce existing beliefs or encourage new beliefs about Atlantis and pseudoarchaeology. And considering the ways in which archaeology is misappropriated by alt-right and conspiracy theory movements, it will highlight why archaeology and pseudoarchaeology in pop culture is something to which archaeologists should pay attention.

01:00 PM: Power, Politics and Policies: The Archaeology Field School at Town Pointe, NS
Author(s):
  • MIKAEL HALLER - StFX University

Despite popular portrayals of archaeologists as inconsequential to modern issues and problems, archaeological research is an important source for the promotion of social identity and political agendas. During the 2010 archaeological field school at Town Pointe, Nova Scotia, this became abundantly clear as proposals from different stakeholders shaped the methodology and aims of the research. During this project, we surveyed the site of Town Point, the original European settlement in Antigonish County, in hopes of identifying pre-contact and European settlements and to assess Euro-Mi'kmaw relations in the early 1800s. The survey zone was on Crown lands (NS Province) being managed under a timber lease that also had a land claim initiated by the local Indigenous Mi’kmaq. Additional stakeholders’ input needed to be negotiated to address the concerns of the pubic and individuals in developing the goals of the project. While the findings of the field school were not remarkable, students quickly learned that archaeological research addresses the present as much as the past.

01:05 PM: Learning from Community-University Research Alliances to Improve Institutional Readiness for Repatriation
Author(s):
  • Rebecca Bourgeois - University of Alberta

Readiness assessments in community-based participatory research (CBPR) are used to optimize the success of community-engaged scholarship. These assessments, however, are directed exclusively at evaluating communities and are not reflexive of institutional capacity, perpetuating the asymmetrical power dynamic that community-based research seeks to eliminate. This paper presents a critical analysis of institutional readiness through the systematic review of limitations cited in publications from archaeology and anthropology projects conducted with support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council’s (SSHRC) Community-University Research Alliances (CURA) funding program. This analysis compares the proportion of constraints that were influenced by institutional stakeholders in relation to those resulting from other areas. To comment on the realities of institutional readiness for collaboration, this paper addresses two research questions: 1, how can a critical analysis of institutional readiness contribute to decolonizing repatriation practices?; and 2, what are the steps that institutions need to take to become more ready for repatriation partnerships with First Nations in Canada? The goal of this research is to use the limitations identified in CURA projects to inform how institutional readiness contributes to outcomes of repatriation projects and suggest avenues for improving the landscape of repatriation in Canada.