Ethics and Public Archeology

The public archaeology described by Jameson differs from the PAR approach described in McGhee, Jameson writes about how to allow equal interpretation, educating people, realizing it is a public resource and what archeology has to offer. The Participatory Action Research or PAR, McGehee writes how it is the community that has all the power and they show be the ones that lead the social change. Although both talk about the individual and the collective whole, what role archeologist play in the community and how all this is organized.
These different approaches suggest that there is an importance placed on ethics that public archeology must follow which create rules that are applied to the projects. There are ethical boundaries that archeologist follow because there is always the debate of who owns it, controls it and its interpretation.
These are some of the question found in the McGhee article that play into the criticisms and what both sides need affecting collaboration and response.
The following questions are from the communities/organizations perspectives:
• Is the researcher willing to follow the community/organization’s lead?
A researcher is not part of the community or organization but both should find common ground to work on because it is important to work together, especially since it is public archeology. However, the researcher depending on the project may not be able to follow the community/organization’s lead just due to the fact that there are so many factors involved one primarily is that the researcher is technically an outsider with an insider’s view.
• How good is the researcher at meeting deadlines?
In our case our project may not be completed because we are working on a semester time’s which means that our time is limited. The deadlines are always important especially when there is a lot of data collection and organization preparation that needs to be done.
• Can the researcher communicate in a community context?
A researcher should be able to communicate within a community context there would be not point if the people involved cannot communicate together. Misunderstanding are bound to happen and could potentially increase the inability to communicate effectively.
• What experience does the researcher have?
In our case, HCPCP, we as students have limited experience however we do have certain skills that allow us to participate in this project in the first place, we have studied and researched, gaining experience as we work.

These questions are from the researcher’s perspective:
• Does the community/organization have the capacity to participate?
The community does have the capacity to participate in this project and contribute in various aspects of it. There are things that we as “outsiders” cannot do which is gather information we as students are not privy to or organizing without the connections.
• What are the established community-based organizations, do they exist?
There are several established community-based organizations that could be of potential help such as LUPE among others that could be interested in the project, who want to understand how this will impact the community.
• What resources can the community organization contribute?
Like I had mentioned above the community can offer information that we do not have access to or did not think of. They can offer what we cannot like the families who are connected to the cemetery, their stories and involvement.
• Does the community/organization have research needs you can fulfill?
This question links to the others above as the community learns about what we are doing in the cemetery, collecting and recording information.
There will always be that debate involving the dead, although we are not digging anyone up we are entering a space (not as family or cemetery workers) that we do not belong. However, we are trying to bring the community together in another way by reidentifying or contacting families so that the history of the people buried there is not forgotten, hidden or ignored. We cannot do this without the help of the community. The community is the one that decides how far we can go with this project and how important it will become in it.


0 thoughts on “Ethics and Public Archeology

  1. I agree with you; researchers meeting deadlines is quite difficult especially with the HCHCP since students are expected to end at a certain time. Therefore, there should be divers deadlines. One for the students to meet a certain number of recordings would be a good one. This is just to encourage or make the students want to reach such limit. Another deadline should be placed for the project’s leader so their goals can be clearer rather than spread. However, it is important to note that additional goals can arise throughout the project, so we got to have an open mind of what the data gives us to create further research. I always felt that a project should never be set to an endpoint but to raise more questions for further interpretations, learning, and discoveries.
    I really love how you divided questions and gave your own answers!

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