Indigenous Archaeologies: A Reader on Decolonization

Indigenous Archaeologies: A Reader on Decolonization

Indigenous Archaeologies: A Reader on Decolonization

Indigenous Archaeologies: A Reader on Decolonization


This comprehensive reader on indigenous archaeology shows that collaboration has become a key part of archaeology and heritage practice worldwide. Collaborative projects and projects directed and conducted by indigenous peoples independently have become standard, community concerns are routinely addressed, and oral histories are commonly incorporated into research. This volume begins with a substantial section on theoretical and philosophical underpinnings, then presents key articles from around the globe in sections on Oceania, North America, Mesoamerica and South America, Africa, Asia, and Europe. Editorial introductions to each piece contextualize them in the intersection of archaeology and indigenous studies. This major collection is an ideal text for courses in indigenous studies, archaeology, heritage management, and related fields.


Decolonizing Disciplines and Indigenizing Archaeologies

Indigenous peoples the world over—Australian Aboriginals, Native Americans, Canadian First Nations, Pacific Islanders, and many others— have a vested interest in the material remains of the past and in the intellectual construction and mapping of their cultures, identities, and territorial relations based on those remains. Over the last few decades, the world’s Indigenous populations have become increasingly engaged in the theory and practice of archaeology, and increasingly vocal about issues of sovereignty and cultural patrimony, as part of a concerted effort to gain control over archaeological and political uses of their pasts. Archaeologists, in turn, have become increasingly aware that their practice must concern itself with more than just past things, since past things are integral to Indigenous ancestral relations and are meaningful to Indigenous peoples today.

Colonialist, imperialist, and ethnocentric theories and methods—long central to the interpretation of archaeological remains—are often illsuited to interpreting the different materialities of precapitalist and contemporary Indigenous societies. Many of these theories emerged from colonial encounters that have had far-reaching global effects. the power relations at play in archaeological research are not always visible and are rarely in balance with Indigenous concerns. Archeological theories grounded in colonial relations can have real-world implications that continue to affect the sovereignty and human rights of contemporary Indigenous populations.

At the intersection of points of conflict and cooperation, a new multidimensional field has emerged, under the rubric of “Indigenous Archaeologies.” Around the world, Indigenous peoples and archaeological practitioners are working to devise less colonial, more culturally sensitive methods to redress historical wrongs and reorient with Indigenous values. Many Indigenous people are themselves archaeologists. the perspectives of these multivocal, multinational, transcultural participants . . .

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