Canadian Archaeology, The Next Generation: Embodying an Engaged Practice in Archaeology

Friday, May 17, 2019 - 9:00am to 4:00pm
  • Chelsea Meloche, Simon Fraser University.
  • Erin Hogg, Simon Fraser University.
Contact Email: 
Session Description (300 word max): 

Archaeology has changed drastically in recent decades. As the latest CAA meetings have shown, conversations have shifted. The theory wars and repatriation debates of the late-twentieth century have mostly quieted and working by, with, and for local and descendant communities is now the norm. UNDRIP and other legislative developments have ensured that a whole generation of archaeologists has been trained in collaborative practices. However, while graduate students and junior scholars are undertaking novel research with communities, they are often underrepresented in disciplinary dialogues on such topics. In this session, we explore examples of engaged practice from graduate students and junior scholars to highlight the voices of the next generation.

09:10 AM: With, By, and For: Engaging Archaeology’s Communities
Presentation format:
  • Erin A. Hogg - Simon Fraser University
  • Chelsea H. Meloche - Simon Fraser University

Collaborative archaeology has become increasingly popular in recent decades with the impetus to engage “communities” becoming common practice. In many institutions, research training now incorporates some experience with qualitative methodologies, ethnography, and collaborative research design. Policy developments have ensured that stakeholder communities have more of a voice in archaeology than ever before. Junior scholars are meeting the challenges of this new research landscape and collaborating with a variety of stakeholders. In this presentation, we use examples from our own experiences and research to reflect upon what it means to engage with archaeology’s different stakeholders, including Indigenous descendants, the “public,” legal practitioners and policy makers, and archaeologists themselves.

09:40 AM: “What my daduk told me”: incorporating Elders’ stories, memories and knowledge into interpretations of the past
Presentation format:
  • Rebecca Goodwin - University of Western Ontario
  • Lisa Hodgetts - University of Western Ontario

Community-oriented archaeology is becoming increasingly common within North America, including the Canadian Arctic, although it is still far from the norm. As part of the Inuvialuit Living History Project (ILH), Goodwin’s doctoral research has interrogated the complexities in Inuvialuit gender identity and performance, past and present. In partnership with Inuvialuit Elders, her research attempts to centre the voices of descendant community members in interpretations of the archaeological record. Through a series of semi-structured interviews and archaeological ethnographic processes Goodwin and the Inuvialuit Elders attempt to answer the question of what it means to be an Inuvialuit man, woman or other gendered individual both now and far into the past. In this paper we will describe the process of Goodwin’s PhD from inception through to dissemination back to the wider Inuvialuit community. We will focus in particular on the successes and difficulties in building a meaningful, community-oriented research project under the limitations of a doctoral program. In addition, this paper will discuss how centering the voices of community Knowledge Holders can reveal important insights into complex questions of identity. The privileging of Elders voices within the archaeology of the Inuvialuit and their ancestors can help us work towards decolonizing archaeological practice.

10:30 AM: The Cabins of My Ancestors: Conducting Archaeology as a Member of a Descendant Community
Presentation format:
  • Dawn Wambold - University of Alberta

Conducting archaeology as the member of a descendant community embodies acts of decolonization and the reclamation of one’s heritage. However, it can also bring emotional and relationship entanglements to the practice of archaeology which need to be navigated. At the end of the research project, the descendant archaeologist cannot simply move on to the next project but must continue to live with the impact of their research on their community. In this presentation, I will discuss my personal journey as a Métis archaeologist and how engaged practice has influenced my experiences of studying the material culture of my ancestors.

11:00 AM: Frontier Inversion: Engaged Practice Innovation within Commercial Archaeology
Presentation format:
  • Josh Dent - Timmins Martelle Heritage Consultants

The primary perceived driver of engaged practice in archaeology has traditionally been academia, however a big part of the future progression of engaged practice now resides in non-academic sectors including commercial heritage practice and in Descendant communities themselves. Emerging scholars and graduate students are increasingly familiar with commercial archaeology with many participating in the practice before, during and, for most, after their studies. Whether through their own initiatives or in collaboration with existing companies with similar philosophies, the participatory discourse taught in academia is increasingly resonating in commercial heritage domains. Commercial space also offers new avenues for innovation and an increased emphasis on meaningful and accessible work products and service outcomes. Indigenous and other Descendant communities are also increasingly exercising their own agency in heritage management domains. This paper explores this expanding environment and profiles some of the engaged practice innovations commercial heritage practitioners and community stewards are developing.

01:40 PM: Archaeological Remote Sensing as Engaged Practice
Presentation format:
  • William Wadsworth - University of Alberta

Geophysics and remote sensing technologies are commonly incorporated within the archaeologist’s toolkit. In practice, these surveys are typically implemented after or without community consultation, limiting the depth of knowledge achieved by these efforts. I will discuss why these techniques have increased in popularity within Canadian Archaeology, and how they might be used in community driven practice. Geophysical surveys from different regions and communities will be used to illustrate this point. Finally, I will briefly discuss the significance of incorporating these techniques into future heritage management strategies in light of a post-TRC archaeology and decolonization. 

02:10 PM: Digital Representation of Inuvialuit Traditional Knowledge: A case study in community engagement using Google Earth
Presentation format:
  • Jeff Grieve - Department of Anthropology, University of Western Ontario
  • Lisa Hodgetts - Department of Anthropology, University of Western Ontario
  • Natasha Lyons - Ursus Heritage Consulting

Many Indigenous communities are mobilizing to document and share their traditional knowledge and cultural heritage.  The pervasiveness of the internet, social media, and other mobile technologies have created new opportunities for Indigenous communities, archaeologists, heritage groups, and technologists to collaborate with and together on digital strategies and tools to address these objectives.  Every Indigenous community has a unique history and world view, so the use of these digital approaches must be tailored to the needs of each case. 

The Inuvialuit Living History project is a community archaeology project that brings together Inuvialuit knowledge holders, archaeologists, and other heritage specialists to create, document, and disseminate Inuvialuit traditional knowledge and cultural heritage in the digital realm.  The Inuvialuit are the Inuit of the Western Arctic and their traditional knowledge is practiced through land-based activities such as hunting, fishing and berry picking.   The spatial nature of these activities has good potential to be represented in an interactive Google Earth map in a way that uniquely aligns with Inuvialuit epistemology and worldviews.   By incorporating photographs, videos and other digital representations of personalized stories and artifacts into specific traditional places on Google Earth, map users have the opportunity to virtually “experience” traditional knowledge in a geographically specific and highly contextualized way. This paper discusses the effectiveness, benefits, challenges, and implications of using a Google Earth map in this way for the documentation and intergenerational sharing of Inuvialuit traditional knowledge, archaeological history, and cultural heritage.     

03:00 PM: Reorienting Bioarchaeology for an Era of Reconciliation: The Informed Behavioural Model
Presentation format:
  • Rebecca Bourgeois - University of Saskatchewan

The discipline of archaeology in Canada has transitioned into an era of community driven work as a step to decolonize the practice. Bioarchaeology, on the other hand, has largely become focused on international projects and has all but halted in Canada. Under the recent (2015) recommendations put forth by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, this paper proposes the Informed Behavioural Model by which bioarchaeology can re-enter Canada by assuming a consultant role and functioning as a tool for the mortuary management of at-risk sites and the preservation of Canadian stories. Drawing on theoretical approaches such as the biocultural model, behavioral archaeology, archaeologies of personhood, shared histories, and general social theory, the Informed Behavioural Model outlines a pragmatic approach to orienting and interpreting bioarchaeological data under a specific intention and a heightened focus on personhood. This model contends that a holistic, community driven approach to bioarchaeological research activates the expertise of communities to achieve meaning and impactful outcomes.

03:30 PM: Building Bridges of Sound: Immersive Digital Narratives in Public Archaeology
Presentation format:
  • Rae  Fletcher - University of Victoria
  • Katie McPherson - University of Victoria
  • Katherine Cook - Université de Montréal

Our experiences of the world are multi-sensory, and yet our representations of landscapes of the past are so often one dimensional. Developments in technology, open source software, and media, paralleled by demands for more dynamic, accessible, and thought-provoking heritage programming, have created new opportunities for engaging with the past using all of our senses. How can we use sound to help to create, or recreate, memories? To engage with heritage sites? This paper will present narrative soundscapes created as part of a pop-up exhibition at the Royal BC Museum with the University of Victoria in 2017. Using sounds and temporality to create immersive experiences for public engagement, this project examined the role of changes in landscapes over time to bring to life three local archaeology sites. Our methods relevant to digital applications and public archaeology, as well as the challenges and impact of this project, will be examined to contribute to contemporary approaches to powerful storytelling in heritage and archaeology.