Site Interpretation

Rosewood, Florida has a lot of important history that helps determine the social changes that the United States faced during the early twentieth century. The destruction of many African-American towns was caused by a race riot in 1923. This riot caused a lot of people (mainly Blacks)  to lose their homes, have no place to live in and migrate out. To recover the historical racist and inequality of Rosewood riot event in 1923, Edward Gonzalez-Tennant placed together a Virtual Rosewood research project on the website; With this, he seeks that the public will remember, learn and “remind us that those who have forgotten are doomed to repeat (Gonzalez-Tennant: homepage).”

His webpage is very interesting because he put together oral history, 3D models, archive documentation (photos, maps, census, etc.). This gives the viewers multiple forms to fully witness and understand the past. Yet, it appears that Gonzalez-Tennant aim to reach towards the minorities for the research is about African-American being discriminated and evicted. Also, he points out towards the majority when he states; this historical event is to “remind us that those who have forgotten are doomed to repeat (Gonzalez-Tennant: homepage).” In other words, he wants the event to be remembered so the mistake will not be repeated. In all, he calls his project virtual reality for he is giving the viewers physical documents, maps, pictures,  and information about the site. With this, the people can see exactly how the time looked and how it has changed over time. He informs us that the history can as well help us see if there is still the presence of discrimination and inequality between races.

How can we learn from his virtual reality work and use it in our own the Hidalgo County Public Cemetery Project (HCPCP)? We know that digital techniques have been improving and more people are using the source. Even more, the internet gives worldwide access to the online material, making it not an issue to reach the long-distance areas. With the already created website, the HCPCP can, later on, add the data collections of the monumental structures. This will lead the HCPCP to become a more virtual reality by placing the information on the website. In fact, the current website is heading that way since we are informing the digital public of our project by giving them resources, our thoughts, and historical information. Hopefully, soon we can add some data collection to the site where the public can access the cemetery monuments and burial locations. Also, it would be great if we could provide the original list that the owner has of people buried in the cemetery. This would be very memorable to the family members and those who are interested in historical documents.

In furthering the advertisement, this Spring 2018 semester, we had the local channel 5 News at the site. Hopefully, a lot of locals watched the news and would like to come out and help or find their relatives. The newscast did a great story of Gloria Ramirez and her family members attempting to find their buried relative. The family members at the end found the monument through the use of our already collected data and the deceased name that they provided. It would be cool if the KRGV link of the video was posted on the HCPCP website so other can have easier access to the link. The link is found in and is titled “Records Unknown, Graves Unmarked at Hidalgo Cemetery (Christian Von Preysing, 2018).” In connection, the web designer of Virtual Rosewood Gonzalez-Tennant public aim was towards everyone and he even has a documentary film of the site. Aside from the local news report,  maybe in the future, the area can be documented with relatives, students working the site, the cemetery workers that have helped out with maintenance and even add some history of the time period that the burials consist of. This will give the people more understanding of the deceased time period and the location historical events. Moreover, another aim that the project should trigger is the UTRGV students and other nearby college students that are interested in archaeological fieldwork. By sending out and posting flyer around campuses, students can contact the project director, Dr. Sarah M. Rowe, to participate in the project. This will aid the project in having more helpers to complete the collection more quickly. Also, it will give students more knowledge about the location and about anthropology fieldwork. The fieldwork can count towards volunteer work through the Engagement Zone website so volunteer workers can place it on their resumes. It is a win for everyone.

Like Gonzalez-Tennant, the aim for the HCPCP is to remember the past in order to learn and remind us of those who have been forgotten. With that, the cemetery burials will always be recorded in case if natural destruction occurs or other destructive factors. I honestly believe this archaeological fieldwork to be worthwhile because it helps the community’s culture maintenance, awareness of the region’s history, and connecting with the community. In all, the project website is doing great. Once the data is fully collected and revised, the HCPCP hopes to provide online access to each individual grave.


Site interpretations

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.

Site Interpretation

The lessons that Baram’s case study has in regard to the potentials and limits of mobilizing the community around archeology are not taking into account power relations and letting information flow freely, clear sense of local politics, and the significance of heritage within the local communities but also attuning to gender, race, ethnicity, and sexuality and assessment. There are many factors that could impact an organizers ability to mobilize a community around archeology. One should keep all these factors in mind when networking and who are the stakeholders. Having a common goal and finding the role each group plays like preservation and commemoration of the past.
Baram states in his article that, “Organizing is not merely the act of bringing people together or expanding the rolls of professional organizations.” In his article, he mentions Saul Alinsky, who defines not only community organization in giving people sense of power and being able to sustain social change but also role of the organizer. The role of the organizer is said to be that of the outsider, outside of the community which made me think about how we as students are considered outsiders in the Hidalgo County Pauper Cemetery.
In Gonzalez case study in Rosewood, Florida where African Americans were driven out of their homes by the 1923 violence. The people that go visit sites such as these are part of dark tourism that is supposed to make people feel profound emotions. The public that Gonzalez-Tennant is trying to reach not only the public but the archeologists and all the others that are involved in these types of research and documentation, how important it is.
Based on the work Gonzalez-Tennant outlines, the lessons that we can identify about the stories can tell about the cemetery are that there is a lot of heritage and there should be social justice as the people we help identify and reconnect with their families and for those that know their loved one is there and visit them, for them to share their stories that the people buried in the Hidalgo Pauper Cemetery are not forgotten.
The formats that we use are document research and some media applications however we could incorporate the oral histories of the family members. There are other cemeteries that are also doing the same, documenting cemeteries individuals and their histories.
With the different groups involved will lead to different interpretations that could shape the project.

Site Interpretation

In his discussion of opening up what happened to Rosewood through the use of the internet a virtual reality-type program, Gonzalez-Tennant discusses how he hopes to use the virtual reality-type program Second Life to better inform the general populace of different things that are happening around the world. This can be especially useful to us because there may be more foot traffic on an online website than if people were to have to show up in person. This in turn relates to what Baram was saying in his article about conservation. In order to better conserve a site and a community, the use a virtual reality program such as Second Life, is vastly helpful because people are able to explore new areas and gain an understanding of the area and thus may be more likely to respect the area they are going to. If we end up using a virtual reality-type program for our project, we would need to find one that suits our project and one that can be easily accessible to general public. We would also need to find a way to advertise our project in such a way that the people who would be directly affected by the project would then be able to know what is being done and have a way to stay updated on the project.

Site Interpretation

Uzi Baram writes about his experience with a former Florida colony and in doing so he addresses another individuals research. Baram began with explaining the connection between working with communities and the transitions that are to be made. Often “community organizing” is mentioned and despite the initial thought upon this term it influences building alliances. For community organizing to be successful you must expand from socio-politics to local politics. There is some notice that there is a collaborative continuum in “an act and a practice” that influences scholars working with more individuals that would consider the work a different sort of activity. Baram acknowledges Saul Alinsky (not an archaeologist) and explains that Alinsky sharpened tactics in allowing the community to believe they are building up social change. In Bradenton, Baram explains the city accidentally sold their park and when admitting this mistake a columnist named Tom Lyons question why the city wanted the park back. Through his opinion he believed the city should allow for positive caretakers to remain taking care of the park. The objective through community organizing is primarily about conservation of sites that have the potential to be lost. A group of professionals and locals network to bring more individuals together, including government and non-governmental organizations, together to preserve regions. Baram states, “The process, ideally, includes jointly negotiated approaches using archeo-heritage for building community and social justice.” For today’s perspective, there is now notice towards race, gender, ethnicity, and sexuality to better succeed at reaching the needs of each individual.

Through my understanding Gonzalez-Tennant is attempting to reach the general public of those utilizing online technology as their source of information. Through this I feel we could identify stories about the cemetery where individuals have not been entirely blessed throughout their lives. There are the occasional individuals that have outstanding marking for their loved ones with new offerings while a large majority of the others appear to have been neglected and not kept up with. Though the project we have begun is to increase knowledge of those who have gone forgotten or unnoticed I concluded there are many deceased individuals that are entirely unaware of. Virtual realities are explored through the reading and beginning with our technology advancement there will soon be an opportunity for our project to also become a version of virtual reality. Often when individuals pass away they are forgotten, this is no secret, though with archives and live through the internet these individuals remain alive. This allows for people all over to discover new, interesting stories from various locations and the legacy of people will continue to thrive, regardless of not being entirely knowledgeable of an individual personally. The research that is compiled is going to result in the way others see certain deceased individuals that have gone unheard of thus this allows for a sense of a “second life”. Continuing to document the individuals we discovery is a positive way to keep our personal experiences of the cemetery alive as well as the individual we discovered.

Site Interpretation & Community Organization

This blog post is in regards to the various methods approached by archaeologists today in attempts to engage with the public and other interest groups. References are made to Edward Gonzalez-Tennant’s “New Heritage and Dark Tourism: A Mixed Methods Approach to Social Justice in Rosewood, Florida” and Uzi Baram’s “Community Organizing in Public Archaeology: Coalitions for the Preservation of a Hidden History in Florida”. 

As we continue on this journey of developing technology at a rapid pace, methods and theory on how to approach new spheres of the public are being established such as virtual reality. As mentioned in my last post on digital techniques, i cover a topic on the modern advancements in data recording as a means to allow the public to become more involved and have accessible information on the projects that involve their very own community.

Mentioned in the article by Gonzalez-Tennant, it explains the purpose of this platform being used primarily for the engagement of the public and overall as a tool for education(76). By utilizing the program site called SecondLife, Gonzalez-Tennant builds assimilation of historic events in a manner of several contexts. He explains the availability the public is allowed to create an avatar and explore this program to inquire more in-depth understandings of such historic context. By creating the Virtual Rosewood Museum in SecondLife, establishes a center concentrated on the avocation and education of what happened in 1923 to the African-American community neighborhood at Rosewood, Florida(69). Thus, satisfying the intent set forth on applying new digital techniques to connect the world with important events throughout history and current events.

Reflecting on these public engagement methods executed by Gonzalez-Tennant, I believe we can apply similar tools onto this project through the continuation of blogging, broadcasting, digital data collection, and incorporating digital models of on-site artifacts onto the Hidalgo County Pauper Cemetery Project. While also incorporating new topics of discussion that pertain to the cultural significance of this site that include marginalization on several levels. As we collect data on these damaged burial sites, we must be documenting these patterns of people who were buried here and give them the representation they deserve; by documenting these burials onto a platform that will be accessible to the public.

Uzi Baram elaborates on other approaches when concerning community archaeology and how engaging with the public is crucial to social change. The most crucial point to this article is the understanding in which archaeologist are only a component to this major project that calls for organization and collaboration(15). In order to successfully create social change in a community, the motive of this project is not on the excavation and research analysis but on the relationships and power control that is understood throughout.

Baram explains the notion of decentering archaeology is not necessarily a bad thing, but allows room for the true focus of community development and historic preservation to be done(16). The focus of archaeologists being the hero of the change needs to be shifted to only a component to the overall movement of this collaboration because community leadership is involved.

For conservation to succeed in this example, collaborations in terms of building up an organization and creating coalitions dedicated to preservation have been essential; archaeological excavations and interpretations would not have been enough to preserve the area.”(16)

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.

Site Interpretation

Uzi Baram relates his experience with community organizing in relation to an archaeological project. The project he describes, of a former Maroon colony in Florida, is a case in which the site (or sites) are unknown, and in which archaeology takes a back seat to many other local concerns.  What lessons does Baram’s case study have for us in regards to the potentials and limits of mobilizing community around archaeology?

In interpreting the site of Rosewood, Edward Gonzalez-Tennant explores the past through a number of electronic mediums. Who are the publics that Gonzalez-Tennant reaches? Most importantly, based on the work he outlines, what lessons can we identify about the stories can we tell about the cemetery? What formats should we use?