As anthropologist work with different communities, they become a part of them. Sometimes it is communities they are born into, or work with over years. It can benefit anthropologists because they can get to know about how the communities are, not just to the public but to each other. I have been on the outside of the valley community and still am, I have only been for a year and a half. The valley has many people from many vibrant cultures, which blend together beautifully. By being on the border you see many people from all over the world. Some of them, like me, may not have any connection to the Hidalgo County Pauper Cemetery. People who are involved in the project are mostly individuals, who family has lived here, who have an interest in the history of the people of the valley, or those who would like to use it for future data and research.
One of the stakeholders for the HCPCP is The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and the anthropology class led by Dr. Sara Rowe. Another stakeholder would be Hildago County officials, who gave our class permission to do work at the Pauper Cemetery site. The class also uses indirect stakeholders, by the family’s that visit the cemetery and give the class background on their family members. Many of the funeral homes, and hospitals that can give us information on who was buried there are also stakeholders.
Gonzalez-Tennant talks about how he hopes to use the virtual reality-type program Second Life to inform the general public in a more considerate manner. It is helpful because with the technology today, people are more likely to reach out and help out online than to come by in person. I believe this is a great way for the public to understand what is happening and to help out with the project. By doing this project we helped people become aware of the pauper cemetery again.
Uzi Barams website on excavation explains the connection of working with communities and their transitions that are made. He talks about how communities are like organisms, they continue to grow and evolve. Gonzalez-Tennant mentions that as communites grows information is lost and people are lost or forgotten in the change. Many sites have been discovered by accident, such as the site of Lascaux cave paintings that were discovered by kids following their dog, or sites where hikers go off the beaten trail. One of the most famous ones is Machu picchu, a forgotten city in books that no one could find. Only to be discovered by a teacher. However some of the locals still knew of Machu Picchu and were to find it. If it were not for the community it would not been found for the public. That’s why it is important to reach out to people to see what tales they have. We can take from these articles that we should incorporate oral histories into our findings where possible.
We used a lot of digital techniques at the pauper cemetery. HCPCP used collaborative participation, by making the site public and encouraging help from people who might have information. We made the blog that is for public access on what we are doing. The project has used 3D scanning but not in the field. With 3D scanning you can recreate what a site might have looked like before it broken or got the weeds overgrown on it. We used our phones to record the data and take pictures of the grave site. We tried to be as open about the project with community as possible. We wanted to use crowd sourcing as much as possible to learn who was buried at the site and to help make the entries of the site as detailed as possible.
The use of digital technology has new ethical issues. It is a great way for public participation, however there is not much to tell collaborate with what someone tells us. It also relies on voluntarism from the public for our information. It has been criticized as free labor and contributing to neo-liberalist economies. But using digital technology made collecting the data easy as all we had to do was input it into our phones. The complication was if the phone died as it used a lot of the battery, there was no place to charge your phone if it died in the process of recording. The cell phones also relied on signal to use which is not always reliable in the middle of a cemetery.
A pauper cemetery means that for some reason, someone could not afford a paid-for burial. The HCPCP is a pauper cemetery and that is their main form of inequality. Pauper cemeteries have negative stereotypes about who was buried there and why. Since the word pauper means poor person, people assume those of low stature and criminals have been buried here. People believe those who have no family were also buried there. However, many people forgot that it existed, the gravesites went uncared for as weeds started to grow over it, the cemetery was adjacent to another cemetery. One that was cared for and you could tell where the pauper cemetery started and where the other private cemetery ended. It went from being cared for to a cemetery that was left in shambles more. Most of the graves were in poor condition a few didn’t have headstones.
We were not given any information as to how the individuals ended up in the cemetery. But from working in the pauper cemetery I can say that the individuals in the cemetery were well cared for, some had offerings on or by their headstones. Some of the headstones were cared for. There were even a few veterans buried in the pauper cemetery. Some of the people buried might have had family and was very cared for, but their family could not afford a private cemetery. It is also believed that more of the Hispanic culture was buried there than was buried in the private cemetery. Even though the Hispanic culture is more prominent.
Mullins, Paul R. (2007) Politics, Inequality, and Engaged Archaeology: Community Archaeology Along the Color Line. In Archaeology as a Tool of Civic Engagement, edited by Barbara J. Little and Paul A. Shackel, pp. 89-108. Alta Mira Press, Lanham, MA.
Richardson, Lorna-Jane and Jaime Almansa-Sanchez, “Do you even know what Public Archaeology is? Trends, theory, practice, ethics,” World Archaeology, Vol. 47 (2):14-211
From what I understand about public archaeology, it is a connection between the professional world and the public. There is no right definition for public archaeology, it is such a wide field with many different interpretations of what public archaeology is to people. Public archaeology makes archaeological finds and information more readily available and understandable for the general publics knowledge. According to Sir Mortimer Wheeler it is the duty of archaeologists to make their findings available to the public (Wheeler 1956.) The term public archaeology is also used to talk about publicly funded and supported excavations. I believe that public archaeology is any form of contributing the science and knowledge of findings and excavations in archaeology to the general public in hopes of educating people. I believe a great example of public archaeology is making your research or finds available through a blog or some sort of internet site. If the public is interested then they have easy access to the information and can even help out if they choose too.