Unsettling Archaeology

Thursday, May 3, 2018 - 9:10am to 4:50pm
Ambassador H
This session frames "unsettling" archaeology in the broadest possible sense. It is, in part, about rethinking archaeological practice to move it away from the colonial history of our discipline and make it more inclusive. It is also about shaking up our traditional approaches and interpretations, highlighting "activist" archaeological research that promotes social change, and identifying areas where archaeological practice and knowledge construction continue to marginalize some elements of the population. We invite contributions that highlight archaeological research that challenges accepted methods and understandings, aims to correct stereotypes (past and/or present), or promotes social change in the present. We also welcome analyses and personal narratives that illustrate how certain individuals or groups are marginalized within the discipline, thereby highlighting the need for change.
  • Laura Kelvin, Memorial University
  • Lisa Hodgetts, University of Western Ontario
09:10 AM: Community-Sourced Archaeology and Relinquishing the Inception of Research
  • Josh Dent - Sustainable Archaeology/Timmins Martelle Heritage Consultants Inc.
Is archaeology of service beyond archaeologists? Applying a symbolic capital/condition framework, this paper details the emerging Research Portal initiative. Part of a Mitacs Elevate Postdoctoral Fellowship developed in conjunction with Sustainable Archaeology: Western and Timmins Martelle Heritage Consultants Inc., the Research Portal (www.insituated.com/research-portal) is a web-based platform capable of soliciting and communicating community-sourced research to potential academic partners. Designed to augment local capacities, foster relationships and achieve socially meaningful and disseminated academic outcomes, the Portal inverts conventional community-based research conception. Non-academic organizations outline research objectives to which academic partners adapt or design research. Originally conceived of as a means to assist commercial archaeologists in promoting additional research related to commercial projects, the Portal's pilot implementation quickly expanded to include other heritage communities, including First Nations, not-for-profits and a municipal government. Demand for the inclusion of additional research sectors outside of heritage suggest that this archaeology-based initiative may have wider implications. This paper explores the costs and benefits, and the presumptions and promise, of a more service-oriented and community-driven academic mandate.
09:30 AM: The work of Archaeology in the Age of Bureaucratic Reproduction – Cultural resource work and the regulatory environment in Alberta
  • Gareth Spicer
The majority of cultural resource work carried in Alberta is undertaken by private consultants triggered by development within a regulatory environment facilitated through the authority of a public bureaucracy.  As a result, cultural resource management work and the engagement with the results of this work by practitioners, academics and the general public is mediated and controlled through this authority.This presentation will discuss the practice of cultural resource management work in Alberta as it has been defined through the regulatory authority of a public bureaucracy.  I will outline the concept of bureaucracy and public management and discuss its contemporary expression in cultural resource work in Alberta will be discussed.  The influence of a public bureaucracy upon cultural resource work will be illustrated through assessments derived from specific case studies.  Through a comparative analysis between expected and practical outcomes, I will present limitations to cultural resource work resulting from the current regulatory context in Alberta.As a result of this discussion and in reference to the case studies presented, I will propose that the employment of a rational bureaucratic management structure utilizing general rules will produce predictable and beneficial cultural resource management outcomes.  Outcomes which are predictable, beneficial and free from exceptions will act as incentives to both practitioners and proponents to proactively engage in the regulatory environment without advocacy for or enthusiasm in any specific interest.
09:50 AM: The Back-Up Plan: Flexible Research Design and Field Work in a Relocated Community
  • Michelle Davies - Nunatsiavut Government/ Memorial University
The former community of Hebron (1831-1959) is a difficult subject for many on the Labrador coast. Home to over 60 families, the unilateral decision to close the store and Moravian mission station blindsided its’ residents, who were forced to resettle in communities further south. Decades after this abrupt move, people from Hebron and their descendants still feel the traumatic effects of relocation.  Documenting oral histories about life at Hebron before they are lost was identified as a priority for Labrador Inuit, and prompted the initiation of the multi-year Hebron Family Archaeology Project. As part of my Ph.D. research, I have followed the expressed interest of Hebron relocatees through an archaeological lens in order to provide an opportunity for families to return to Hebron while attempting to increase our knowledge of 20th-century life in the community. However, the processes of community engagement and research design, ethics reviews, and informed consent may not always prepare participants for the experience of returning to the community and engaging in emotionally sensitive research. Preparing different potential avenues for research, in both design and methodology, has allowed for flexibility when faced with the profound legacy of relocation as participants return to their homeland, and choose what (and what not) to share during field work.
10:30 AM: Looking East – Using oral traditions and archaeometry to investigate Huron-Wendat history
  • Alicia Hawkins - Laurentian University
  • Louis Lesage - Huron-Wendat Nation
  • Amy St. John - Western University
  • Greg Braun - University of Toronto
  • Joseph Petrus - Laurentian University
  • Kathryn Labelle - University of Saskatchewan
  • Melanie Vincent - Huron-Wendat Nation
  • Allison Bain - Laval University
While Huron-Wendat teachings indicate a close relationship with eastern lands, such as in the Quebec City region, archaeological tradition has only recently begun to consider this possibility. Our research project was initiated by Nation members and developed as a partnership between the Bureau Nionwentsïo of the Huron-Wendat Nation and archaeological and historical researchers. We investigate this relationship using analysis of oral traditions and archaeology. In an effort to undertake a sustainable archaeological practice, we analyse pottery from across southern Ontario and Quebec from pre-existing collections. We employ micro CT analysis, petrography, and laser ablation ICP-MS to compare pottery from across this region to ask if the potters belonged broadly to the same community of practice. Our research process and results are being shared throughout the project using community media and social media, and through meetings and workshops at Wendake. Data created will reside at the Nation and all project members have the opportunity to participate in presentations and publications about the project. Using this approach, one of our goals is to assist with restoring Wendat voices to the telling of Wendat history.
10:50 AM: Unsettling Huron-Wendat Archaeology
  • Gary Warrick - Wilfrid Laurier University
  • Bonnie Glencross - Wilfrid Laurier University
  • Alicia Hawkins - Laurentian University
  • Louis Lesage - Bureau du Nionwentsïo, Conseil de la Nation Huronne-Wendat
The Huron-Wendat are one of the best known Indigenous peoples in Canada. While the Huron-Wendat have an intense interest in the results of archaeological investigation of their past, they are very concerned about repatriation of ancestors and the long-term protection of archaeological sites and burials and artifacts languishing on museum shelves. Digging less and extracting the maximum information from existing archaeological collections is becoming the preferred way of doing Huron-Wendat archaeology. Despite colonial legislation governing archaeology and land ownership, the destruction of sites through land development, and political challenges from both settlers and other Indigenous nations preventing the Huron-Wendat from controlling their archaeological heritage, archaeologists can ensure that Huron-Wendat archaeology is conducted in accordance with Huron-Wendat values and wishes. This paper will present a number of alternative approaches to practicing Huron-Wendat archaeology (e.g., sustainable field archaeology [e.g., metal detection and remote sensing; sampling]; use of existing collections - private and public; dogs as proxies for human isotope studies) and other ways that archaeologists can move in the direction of enabling Huron-Wendat control and ownership of their archaeological heritage (e.g., collaborative research with Huron-Wendat; site inventory surveys; lobbying governments to protect significant sites;  and artifact repositories in Ontario and Québec).
11:10 AM: Unsettling the Archaeology Field School
  • Farid Rahemtulla - University of Northern British Columbia
Archaeology field schools are integral to the post-secondary training regime for students, and they are amenable to “unsettling” the way in which archaeological training and research is conducted in partnership with Indigenous communities. Since 2000 the UNBC archaeology field school has partnered with eight different indigenous communities and organizations throughout the interior and coast of British Columbia.  In this unique set up community members enrol in the field school for full credit alongside university students, regardless of educational background.  Where possible Elders and other community members co-teach the field school through sharing of knowledge, stories, and songs. The entire training and research program including classes, mapping, and fieldwork, takes place within the host community, either on Reserve or nearby.  University students are immersed within the culture and landscapes of the host community, and community members participate in university-level training in archaeology and heritage within their home territory. One goal of the program is to encourage dialogue and thought about restructuring (unsettling) the way in which archaeological research and training is conducted in these areas. This is a continually developing model with no blueprint, but one that is borne out of necessity. Successes and problems are highlighted.
11:30 AM: Contributing to Social Justice through Inuvialuit Living History
  • Lisa Hodgetts - University of Western Ontario
  • Natasha Lyons - Ursus Heritage Consulting
  • Beverly Amos
  • Charles Arnold
  • Ethel-Jean Gruben
  • Kate Hennessy
  • Mervin Joe
  • Sarah Carr-Locke
  • Agnes Kuptana
  • Marie Jacobson
Inuvialuit Pitqusiit Inuuniarutait, the Inuvialuit Living History project, is a longstanding partnership between Inuvialuit Elders and knowledge holders, Inuvialuktun language experts, archaeologists, anthropologists, digital media specialists and museum professionals. The project aims to improve access for Inuvialuit to their heritage objects in southern museums and to share Inuvialuit and archaeological knowledge about Inuvialuit heritage and contemporary life through the project website (www.inuvialuitlivinghistory.ca), launched in 2012. At a recent workshop to kick off a second phase of the project, our team identified a number of social challenges facing Inuvialuit youth in trying to succeed in the Tan’ngit (Euro-Canadian) education system while sustaining strong cultural identities. Together, we outlined a number of project directions that seek to support and strengthen Inuvialuktun language instruction, intergenerational knowledge transfer, and culturally appropriate curriculum development. These activities will be tied into a re-visioning of the website as an Inuvialuit-centred resource that both reflects and fosters Inuvialuit pride in their history, culture and ties to the land. By creating opportunities in both real time and the digital realm for Inuvialuit Elders and youth to share knowledge and culture, we situate our project in opposition to the colonial legacy faced by Indigenous communities in the course of their daily and working lives and contribute to the reconciliation efforts between Indigenous communities and the Canadian mainstream.
11:50 AM: Creating a Space where the Present Intersects with the Past and Future: Working with Youth in Hopedale Nunatsiavut
  • Laura Kelvin - Memorial University
The Inuit Community Government of Hopedale, Nunatsiavut, initiated the Avertok Archaeology Project (AAP) through the Tradition and Transition: Piusitukaujuit Asianguvalliajuillu research partnership between Memorial University and the Nunatsiavut Government to generate tourism activity and support local interest in the history of Hopedale. The Hopedale community articulated that they need community involvement in the AAP, preferably in ways that facilitate knowledge exchange between Elders and youth. The project had its inaugural field season in Hopedale, Labrador in 2017, during which we hired three local youth to catalogue artifacts, work on excavations, and conduct traditional knowledge interviews. This presentation discusses my experiences working with Nunatsiavutmiut youth as part of the AAP and how it has shaped my plans for future field seasons. I am working to develop a strength-based approach for working with youth that encompasses education, employment, and healing. This requires developing a safe space for youth to learn, share their knowledge and skills, and build their confidence. By fostering existing interest in their past and ancestors through the development of approaches to learning and working that appeal to youth, we can help empower them and create projects that have lasting effects that align with community goals.
01:30 PM: When It’s Not About You: Heirs and “Experts” in the Study of non-Eurocentric Pasts
  • Heather MacLeod-Leslie - Kwilmu'kw Maw-klusuaqn Negotiations Office
The past two decades of researching the archaeological heritage of Atlantic Canada’s African Diaspora peoples and working for the Mi’kmaq Nation in Nova Scotia has yielded some critical teachings for the author as a professional archaeologist. Indeed, as a white archaeologist, these experiences have taught lessons at least as important as those learned in the university classroom. This paper will share thoughts on some of those lessons about academic propriety, standpoint theoretical framing, sharing power and acknowledging and coping with the legacies of Eurocentric biases in archaeological interpretations. It is the intention that this paper offers a model for correction of these legacies to other archaeologists, whether their work is conducted for the academy or industry. Pushing beyond community-collaborations, this paper hopes to check the negative, if unintended impacts, of intellectualism and the shadow cast by the profile of expertise across the landscape of modern archaeological investigation. Specifically, the way forward to improved and more accurate understanding of the past is a key goal of any such corrections, as is the stronger commitment to a more ethical way of researching it.
01:50 PM: Categorizations of Identity in Settler Colonial Contexts: Unsettling Métis as Mixed in the Archaeological Record
  • Kisha Supernant - Department of Anthropology, University of Alberta
Unsettling archaeology requires that we examine the ways we categorize, divide, and characterize the material record and understand the relationships between our analytical frameworks and settler colonialism. The Métis people of Canada have often been categorized as a mixed, hybrid ethnic group, based largely on racialized understandings of the early encounters between Indigenous women and European men. Métis scholars have begun to critique the racial basis for "Métis-as-mixed" and shift toward ways of identifying the Métis based on peoplehood and nationhood. In this paper, I discuss how settler colonial categories of hybridity have influenced past archaeological research on the Métis in Canada and explore how archaeological analysis of Métis sites based on a Métis ontology that centers kinship, mobility, and nationhood can unsettle colonial characterizations of identity. Using examples from my research, I present a framework to conceptualize the rise of a new people through the archaeological record that does not rely on logics of mixedness, but rather considers the spatial and material patterns as representative of an emergent Métis worldview. 
02:10 PM: Reframing Archaeology and Indigenous Heritage
  • Kevin Brownlee - Manitoba Museum
As an Indigenous person, learning about my Cree history and heritage is very important to me. Knowledge of the past is what grounds us by helping to shape the perceptions of ourselves and how we relate to the world. My desire to know more about my heritage is what drew me into the field of archaeology in the first place where it provides a view into the past. I have been fortunate to have worked my entire career with diverse Indigenous communities. I owe a great deal to them because their perspectives on archaeology and heritage have helped shape my Indigenous identity. My attitude has changed over the years and I have become more aware of how archaeology can impact the lives of youth from our community. The Western Education System's tendency to divide Indigenous heritage into the disciplines of archaeology, anthropology, and history has been a point of frustration for me. The way I practice archaeology is with a priority on Indigenous heritage, not restricting myself to the material items excavated from the ground. The way I view and interpret ceramics now is dramatically different from how I was initially trained. The insight shared by community members offers a more complete view in what archaeologists are trying to understand from the past. After all, Indigenous heritage extends into time immemorial, persists until today and is what guides people into the future. Any attempt to divide this past, serves only to weaken what it means to be Indigenous.   
02:30 PM: Do My Braids Look Different? Indigenous Identity in Archaeology.
  • Danielle Desmarais - University of Toronto
This paper is a narrative of the challenges I’ve experienced as a White passing Indigenous scholar.  It will include a discussion of my conscious decision to conceal my Indigenous heritage during my undergraduate education due to subtle and overt forms of marginalization.  I will also examine the role of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and some community engagement experiences that inspired me to proudly divulge my Indigenous identity during my graduate career.   Through my personal narrative, I will outline some of the issues that exist for Indigenous peoples studying in a colonial setting and how I engage with my culture, and the Indigenous teachings I have received, to cope with these challenges.  It is my hope that my Truth will allow fellow colleagues to reflect on their own experiences of marginalization, complacency and/or culpability so that we can work together and move forward with Reconciliation in a good way.
02:50 PM: Guns, Ponies, and Biases: How Archaeological Knowledge is Constructed
  • Elsa Perry - Atlatl Archaeology, University of Lethbridge
  • Rachel Lindemann - Atlatl Archaeology
The first North West Mounted Police Post at Fort Macleod is a Provincial Historic site located in southern Alberta near the current town of Fort Macleod, approximately 60 kilometres west of the city of Lethbridge. Excavations at the old town site completed by Atlatl Archaeology Ltd in fall/winter 2016 and summer 2017, uncovered a total of 33,905 artifacts ranging from domestic household goods, faunal material to transportation goods, and structural materials. Along with these materials, we encountered ‘unexpected’ artifacts that do not correspond with the common idea of a typical Fort Site in Alberta. Children toys, jewellery, ponies, and glass tools all illuminate a picture of unexpected complexity and diversity at the original town site of Fort Macleod. This presentation links the site of Fort Macleod to a larger scope of how archaeology is taught and practiced in Alberta; preconceived notions of bias and stereotypes affect the kinds of knowledge produced by archaeologists. Acknowledging this bias in pedagogy and archaeological representations of the past is only one small step in ‘unsettling’ archaeology but is vital to changing the colonial foundations of the profession.
03:10 PM: Complicating binaries: A retrospective examination of gender constructions in Western Arctic archaeology
  • Rebecca Goodwin - University of Western Ontario
  • Lisa Hodgetts - University of Western Ontario
“Unsettling” archaeology involves identifying and understanding colonial and other frameworks (both institutional and cultural) that underlie and shape the way we as heritage professionals view the past. Wylie (2017:204) argues that our understandings of the material record are a result of archaeological “scaffolding”: the assumptions we hold about cultural subjects, our background knowledge, and our technical resources. This paper examines the scaffolding that shapes archaeological understandings of gender in the Arctic past through a retrospective survey of the published and grey literature documenting Thule-Inuit and Inuvialuit archaeological sites within the Inuvialuit Settlement Region, NWT. Our analysis highlights how archaeologists have traditionally created and reinforced simple gender binaries through the uncritical use of gendered language and the classification of objects and spaces. We also consider how to apply queer theory to move beyond these normative approaches, towards a more nuanced understanding of the ways in which past Arctic peoples performed their gender identities.
03:50 PM: The Role of Oral Testimony in Queer and Decolonial Archaeologies
  • Meghan  Walley - Simon Fraser University
Oral Testimony has generally been viewed as a way for stakeholders, descendant communities, and the public to establish agency in retellings of the past. LGBTQ2IA+ histories are often erased or downplayed in our narratives of the past, despite ample evidence that gender and sexuality have varied widely culturally, temporally, and geographically. Similarly, Indigenous histories are often recounted through the lens of colonial mythologies, creating distortion and erasure of Indigenous perspectives. While archaeologists have deployed oral testimony to an extent, I contend that this should become a more standard practice, and that we should take advantage of oral history resources readily available to us. Here, I discuss a) my recent research that utilized interviews conducted with LGBTQ2IA+ Inuit to build queer understandings of a precolonial past, and b) my current work with the Archives of Lesbian Oral Testimony, touching on the breadth of already-available, open-access oral testimonies that might be incorporated into archaeological research. In doing so, I will illustrate both the utility and the possibility of archaeological research that is informed by oral testimony.
04:10 PM: Is Archaeology for Me? An Examination of Narrative Accounts from Women in the Discipline.
  • Catherine  Jalbert - Memorial University
While research related to equity issues in archaeology in Canada stagnated after its emergence in the late 1980s-early 1990s, there has been a recent resurgence in studies aimed toward understanding how identity-based politics affect both the archaeological community and the production of knowledge in the discipline. In an effort to add to this body of work, this paper will present results from my Ph.D. research that seeks to understand current gendered dynamics within the archaeological workplace. Conducted through a mixed-methods approach that collected both survey and interview data, I intend to present participant’s qualitative responses that illuminate how traditional modes of archaeological practice and interactions with fellow practitioners might be operating to marginalize and exclude. This will broadly include education and employment experiences and identity related discriminatory attitudes or practices that emerged in these spheres. With consideration toward intersectional analyses, I intend to use this data to further develop relational understandings beyond the male/female dichotomy, complementing yet disrupting past analyses of the social composition of archaeology.
04:30 PM: What does #MeToo mean for archaeology?
  • Natasha Lyons - Ursus Heritage Consulting
  • Lisa Hodgetts - University of Western Ontario
  • Kisha Supernant - University of Alberta
  • John R. Welch - Simon Fraser University
#MeToo is a social campaign initiated to promote ‘empowerment through empathy’ and to gauge the status and magnitude of the problems of sexual abuse and harassment against women in societies worldwide. In its short and powerful life, the movement has grown to look at issues brought forward by marginalized people and communities, particularly those of colour, and to examine power inequalities in workplace environments. Employers across many sectors are being pressured to disclose data on hiring policies, gender-based pay differentials, and sexual harassment claims with a view to creating more equitable and transparent policies and practices that aim to create safer spaces for all people to work, live, interact and communicate with each other. What does the #MeToo movement mean for archaeology? As a social science striving for self-awareness, we take this opportunity to consider gender, age and ethnicity-based dynamics within Canadian archaeology at a personal and structural level based on anecdotal data and a pilot survey, and to begin a conversation about how we might move forward based on our findings.