Final reflection essay

This Semester our class participated in a public archaeology project that centered around the Hidalgo county pauper cemetery, our goal was to record as much data as possible in order to create a data base for the future classes and in order to reach out into the community in order to connect family member to those who may have been buried there. It was not only enlightening socially but also helped me come to conclusions about my own future career goals.  Actually seeing the differences between the pauper cemetery and the hill crest cemetery which was literally feet away really struck home about the social differences many people faced even at death. This also provided me a chance to not only test if archeology was really something I wished to due after graduation i also provided me with experience I can take with me in my future career pursuits.
During the first two weeks we did not go out to the cemetery but instead stayed on campus and discussed the semantics of the project as well as everyone’s jobs. It was also during this time that we where first introduced to the total station. Professor Rowe explained to us how it worked and how to set it up correctly. On our first day out in the field we stated data collection which turned out to be much more work then I had originally thought it would be This consisted of entering the names , birth/ death dates ,head stone design and material and all other relevant information in to the App KOBO toolbox . The app program did not always work many times the data we collected did not upload correctly and we had to do many graves all over again .The app also  had a habit of not only draining my phones battery very fast but over heating it as well their where a few occasions when my partner or I would have to but our phones in my water pack in order to cool off. But even so data collection continued for the majority of the class.  I averaged about five to six   data entry’s along with my partner sometimes even more if the software was being cooperative that day. When not ding data collection I did other tasks including working the total station. When on the total station I collected the points for various objects including a few graves and the boarder posts. his was a long and sometimes difficult process and if do anything after you set it up such as lean on it you have to do again and possibly all of the points you have taken could be invalid. Setting up the total station is a long process in itself finding the correct position to ensure everything is leveled took quite a bit of time. Once it was set up as long as there where no physical obstructions finding the prism window was relatively easy especially since you on had to move a couple of inches to find the next point . Though there where times that the total station was hard , like when I had to go out into the brush for a boarder post or when a tree was in the way and no matter what we did we could not map the point correctly or when we took some of the points from the wrong position.  There where other jobs that had to be done as well such as labeling and setting out the grave markers I only did this once at the end we ended up having over a 1000 different marked sites. There where others that where unmarked that where found using cadaver dogs on the last week on site.
When we were not out in the field we had outside assignment to keep up with. They were our blog posts  in the beginning we were required to do at least 8 out of the 11 that professor rowe posted but that number has since been reduced to only 6. The posts were based on questions about our reading , for example out first post was what pubic archeology meant to us and how and what  we personally felt our project was set o accomplish with in our local community. I really enjoyed this type of class structure because it allowed us to fully focus on our project during class time. While the out side posting assignments were flexible as long as we got them done correctly. This also allowed me the chance to focus on the work load from other classes as well. But i do understand that it could have gone better , I recommend that not only are students require to do the blog post but to also comment and critique their class mates blog posts using original content and references. This will allow student to see how each other is doing and to off feed back and exchange and debate ideas. There by creating a dialog.
During our last class meeting we  discussed how improve our project next semester, there where many great idea that I believe if incorporated correctly our project will b able to help a lot more people within the community. Some of ideas that I think we should incorporate are that we should try and reach out more to the to the pubic and try and become more involved in gathering information. Some of the ways that this could be done is reaching out to funeral homes , churches , and hospitals in order to try and obtain some of the records that may help us identify who exactly is buried with in the paupers cemetery and to try and get in touch with their families in order to learn more about the situations that led them to being buried in the paupers cemetery. We should also look at the court records for more information. This may help us clear up the confusion about the in properly buried hillcrest caskets . I also hope that we will eventually go forward with the plan of  giving a presentation during the annual Archeological society of America’s  meeting I feel like this will help those of us that wish to peruse a career in archaeology make valuable connections with  leader in the field.

Stakeholders and Communities in HCPCP

Within our project there are two groups of stakeholders us and the those who are interested within the community. We as students have dedicated time and effort to the HCPCP , during both class time and individual research . We students are invested in the project but not due to personal reasons unlike those on the community . People with in the community are interested in our project for various reasons comes to connections to the community and with each other in the Rio Grande Valley . Many people here can trace their ancestry back to the firsincluding helping find loved ones and deciphering family histories or even researchers that are  interested in the history of the Rio Grande Valley. There are several different communities that exist with the RGV including religious groups , family groups , and ethic groups . Family is a very important definer when it t RGV families that came from Mexico , it is not uncommon for one to consider themselves related to over half of a school in some places. If one person is not is not connected by family religion and ethic background are next. There are also sub communities like what school you graduated from or those who are veterans. The communities that are involved with the cemetery  are the people of hidalgo county  , specifically those of Mexican -American descendant due to the fact that the majority of people who are in the Hidalgo County Pauper Cemetery or of this ethnicity . I do believe that many people with in our project can claim to be part of the community we wish to work with some more than others . I am part of hidalgo county and am of Mexican American descent , but have no personal stake in the project outside of academics , but another student has told me that she and her family hope to find a relative that is buried with in the cemetery , so she more apart of the community than I am.
Ideally we should be of the cultural affiliation of those we are conducting research on but in case where that is not possible we must remember to be aware of the cultural practices and beliefs of the community and be sure to respect them when ever possible. And to not draw conclusions about the what was found with out background research from the community unlike the African Burial Ground Project “The potential for stereotype, sterile and  denigrating interpretations of the site ….became increasingly apparent to the African American community”(La Roche , pg 88).
If we choose to work exclusively with the Mexican American community of hidalgo county we are excluding all the other ethnic groups , because while the majority of those who are buried with in the cemetery are those of the Mexican American communities there are those who of different ethicizes as well who have just as much right to be involved. Focusing too much on the family can also hurt our project by us neglecting those who have no familial ties but wish to be involved anyway like community leaders and researchers. Possible power dynamics that can arise  include between and within us  students and the different community groups .We as student wish to focus on research gathering and data collection while those of the community may wish to locating specific graves for family members. There is also the issue that we have in across of community members not wanting us to conduct our research or not understanding exactly what we are doing. A women cam by too clean a family members grave because she though we would bulldozing any forgotten graves. We must be respectful of the wishes of the community while also pursuing our research  , and to also keep the community informed and deny any rumors of destruction of the cemetery while explaining exactly what we are doing.


La Roche, Cheryl J. and Michael L. Blakey (1997) Seizing Intellectual Power: The Dialogue at the New York African Burial Ground. Historical Archaeology 31(3):84-106.

Site interpretation

Although we as archeologists seek to include the community within our project many times there are limitations that can arise that can possibly hurt the project instead of helping it as a whole. In Baram’s case study has discuses the limitations of involving the community in public archeology projects that he has encountered through his own experiences . Many of those limitations are real world problems such as economic growth, housing and development plans as well as politics”so the archaeological concerns for preservation are decentered but not removed”(Baram , 2011) . In the search for Angola archeologist faced many setbacks from the community. It is unfortunately but many times community leaders must choose between the preservation of archeological record and the needs of the people with in their communities “calls for investment in social capital, a library, and other facilities to enrich the neighborhood “(Baram , 2011 ). There where many instances when city leaders sought to “rejuvenate the blighted Old Manatee neighborhood” but not many of them took off leaving only vacant lots and bulldozed houses in place .”politics were not focused on archaeology but on the neighborhood of houses, many historic, …of its archaeological record at stake”(Baram , 2011)Some of the lessons that can be taken from Baram’s experience to be aware of economic ,social and political climate of the community where you wish to conduct research , be aware that the climate can change radical one way or another and be prepared for worst possible out come. An example of the problems we have faced in getting our class up and running would be the politics of hillcrest and their miss management of burials . Other limitations that we may come across in our project are a sudden disinterest from both the community and the university .If either one of them loose interest our project might be shut down to clear the way for other things.

Gonzalez-Tennant like many others has through his research and the use of electronic devices reached everyone who wishes to know about his research its is accessible to anyone who can get to a computer. If one can not understand his research paper there are other methods such as digital story telling. “concerns that virtual memorials and museums can address in a variety of ways””(González-Tennant , 2013).The African-American cemetery of Rosewood offers many lessons about the history of the people who lived there and its effects on their dependents. The presence of a African -American cemetery gives the sense that people where considered unequal even in death due to the their skin color. Many of the stories that surround Rosewood are filled with accountings of the hardships that the people of the African American community faced in the wake of the Rosewood race riots some of those who are buried in the cemetary at victims of the riot including James Carrier who “was lynched near the fresh graves of his brother and mother” (González-Tennant , 2013) .The decedents of those who managed to flee still feel the pain and hear first account stories of what went on during this time.

While our projects is not exactly the same as the Rosewoods we can still incorporate ideas from their project including using visual media to connect with the community. I think by incorporating it to our blog we will be able to reach even more people in our community to hopeful share the importance of the pauper cemetery.


Baram, U. (2011). Community Organizing in Public Archaeology: Coalitions for the Preservation of a Hidden History in Florida. Present Pasts, 3(1). Retrieved from

González-Tennant, Edward (2013) New Heritage and Dark Tourism: A Mixed Methods Approach to Social Justice in Rosewood, Florida. Heritage & Society 6(1):62-88.

Digital Technology in Archeology

“Four main levels of participation can be identified, spanning a spectrum from contributory, to collaborative, co-creative and hosted”(Bonnachi, 2017). Contributory is when individuals from the community aid archeologists  in there research .This can be furthered by getting the public for involved in the project and with them creating 3D models of different point of the site to create resources for both the archeologists and the public. Co-Creative is a more  challenging type of participation it requires that the activities to be undertaken are planned and developed jointly by all those involved, This can be implement by getting together with the community to connect our project to the both need of the public and their history. hosted participation is the rarest and most difficult of all of them it requires a institution such as a university to provide everything from funds to a infrastructure  in which the project can be conducted by members of the public. I am not sure on how we can increase this type of participation besides by just keeping the project going for as long as possible.
In recent year technology has changed the way archeology is conducted in numerous ways.” we must engage with how these tools fit our epistemologies”(Garstki,2017) . 3D imagining is one of these new pieces of technology that have become a important tool for all anthropologists . In this day and age many of our worlds most precious pieces of history are in danger from either man or nature. Acid rain corrodes many monuments while war destroys the others. 3D technologies is one way that we at the very least can save a image of many of these pieces of history before they are gone. And through 3D imaging we can share them across the world , can you imagine a exact replica of the elgin marbles or of the lion of Babylon , or any of the other monuments in the world in your local museum. Many museums today have implemented this technique to further their own archives and allow the pubic access to create their own models”… allow access to a selection of their own scans of their collections, making it possible for individuals to download and 3D Print digital models ” (Garstki,2017) .That is the power of 3D technology it enables anyone in the world to experience what only a few decades ago required a costly flight . But despite all the advantages of 3D technology there are also many difficulties that involve the technology . One is that it is very time consuming ,it takes quite a bit of time to take all of the required photos in order to create a 3D image, and the correct pictures are not taken it could leave you with a incomplete rendering . The scanner can be just as bad the same problems occur if the person scanning goes to fast    I do think that this technology could be incorporated into our own project despite the difficulties , we already learned the basics during class so it is not too hard for students too do. with enough practice it should get much easier. This technology an be used to record data , and create a archive of what a individuals grave looks like instead of just describing them to the best of our abilities.

Bonacchi, Chiara (2017) Digital Media in Public Archaeology. In Key Concepts in Public Archaeology, edited by Gabriel Moshenska. UCL Press, London.


Garstki, Kevin (2017). Virtual Representation: the Production of 3D Digital Artifacts. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 24(3):726-750


Social Justice in HCPCP

One of the forms of marginalization and inequality that HCPCP should address is how both we and the community view the pauper cemetery as a whole. The pauper cemetery is surrounded by many negative stereotypes about who was buried there and why. When I first told my friends and family about the project I was asked out right why I would want to work in the “beggar’s field” they also insinuated only the lowest of the low, who had no one were buried there. It is because of this way of thinking so little care up until recently was given to the cemetery ,years of being left alone and practically forgotten the cemetery was in shambles over run with weeds , drugs and a site of ritualistic ceremonies. And with local and state government agencies giving little funding to aid in cleanup of the cemetery not much could be done up until recently. This only fueled public perception of the cemetery, if the agencies that are supposed to maintain cemeteries doesn’t care there is no reason they should.
The stereotypes that surround the Pauper cemetery are false , from working one the project I can say without a doubt that the people buried in the paupers cemetery where very much loved and cared for. Many of the headstones we examined are homemade and show a lot of work and consideration and many of the graves are adorned with grave offerings. While it is true that some of the people buried here may have been the destitute we must be understanding that there could have been unforeseen circumstances that lead them there. The people buried here could have been pillars in their own community but lacked the financial resources to buy a plot in the private cemetery. I also recall that many of those buried there where infants, and as sad it is, many times parents would have to make the choice between their dead child and those who were still alive. Plots are very expensive and if you have several children still alive at home you can’t afford to given them the funeral who might have wanted. It one of the tough choices that exist in our society.
Another and the most common form marginalization and inequality is tied to race and ethnicity. The majority of those buried here are of Hispanic decent, but considering that the majority of the population of the Rio Grande Valley is as well I do not consider race to be a factor in who was buried there only socio-economic status . But directly across from us is the African American cemetery which I do believe was marginalized do to race. While better kept in better shape than the paupers cemetery there is a clear seen difference between it and the private cemetery.
At this point in time we are doing anything to reproduce the inequalities of the past, but we also not doing anything to ramify them either. Going forward I believe that we must keep the community informed about the project. We ourselves must remember not to judge on only what we can see now. That we are not just taking pictures of head stones, but connecting them to real people whose family might still be out there looking for them. And take this as a learning opportunity about how our society functioned in the past , and how we can take those lessons to better our present and future.

The Ethics of puplic archeology

Jameson and McGhee differ in their approach to involving the communities that they are in contact with when doing research. Jameson  seeks to “arm the public” with the  historically accurate knowledge and to help the public understand the truth about cultures who Hollywood and the media has inaccurately represented by ” over sensationalizing depicions of tresure hunts (Indiana  Jones) ” . But Jameson also states that the media is not inherintly bad and  should be used as a teaching  tool “convey archeological information “We can no longer be detached from the mechanisms that convey archeological information to the public” (Jameson Pg 158). McGhee is different his  Participant action research  (PAR)  approach which seeks to directly involve the public in the research that is being conducted  and to include cultural information in identifying and interpreting the archeological record with the ultimate goal being the betterment of the coomunity. One example of the is NAGPRA which through the combined efforts of both archeologists and native tribes have successfully returned the remains of many to their people. Our project would probably fall under this category even more so if we manage to get more community support. Despite this both Jameson and McGhees would be considered highly outside the norm few years ago McGhee more so. Through out its history it has always been only archeologist more specifically the professionally trained archeologists the have interpreted the archeological record with very little input from the local communities “The would probably also object to the notion that ingenious forms of knowledge and understanding should have equal or near-equal standing to .the positive epistemologies employed by properly trained archeologists.”(McGhee pg 214). Even now archeologists will  quickly dismissed the information given to them by the native peoples . Another controversy is both Jameson and McGhee involving themselves with the public and the political I’m pact that it causes . Both Jameson and McGhee agree that archeologist can no longer be distant but must start both involving  and informing the community actively not only relying to published articles.

To some archeologist this is a breech of ethics in which PAR makes the “Researcher” subordinate themselves  to the governments of the communities. Such as wheat happen in private archeology when archeologists are given free reign over the area despite what locals want in the interest of business.

But I believe that by involving communities , researchers can hopefully disprove the many misconceptions about these peoples histories portrayed by both the media and past anthropologist  in order to be truly ethical and inform people of the truth.  Both McGhee and Jameson where as ethical as a researcher can be when involving humans both seek to inform and involve locals in their research only in different ways.  In going  forward in our own project I believe that its paramount that we keep the community informed about what exactly our research in tells especially since we are not working with inanimate objects but the graves of loved ones. We as researchers must be willing to accept help and information from the community and in turn do our best to not only inform but to better the community as a whole through our project.

Public Archeology to me

Public archeology  is when  professional archeologists and community organizers come together to engage members of their community in the preservation and protection of local heritage and cultural sites. With more and more archeology sites put in danger every year it becomes a necessity to get locals active and informed about their local sites in order to protect them for future generations. With out the input and care of local governments many sites are either left to ruin or completely destroyed, such as the Hidalgo County Pauper Cemetery after years of being let alone the cemetery was in shambles over run with weeds , drugs and a site of ritualistic ceremonies before it was cleaned up.

Our project aims to hopefully not only to study this site for educational and professional purposes as students , but to also provide information to the community and local governments in order to  promote the preservation and sustainability  of this historical site .

By identifying those who where buried here we can provide comfort and closure to relatives of the deceased. This will hopefully lead to new information on why and when said person was buried in this particular cemetery  and in time compose a complete history of the Hidalgo County Pauper Cemetery .