Addressing Social Injustice Through Public Archaeology

This blog post is based on the issues of social injustice and how we as members of the Hidalgo County Pauper Cemetery Project(HCPCP) can identify and cancel these components out or rather expose such measures in order to establish a foundation that truly represents the people involved in HCPCP.

In the study of Anthropology as a whole, it is clearly stated that as specialists and peers of the social study we must recognize the elements of human behavior and how they affect the world today. Issues that come from these elements interfere with the growth of humanity unfortunately, and among those is social injustice. Social injustice represents the issues that lie in the ideology of certain individual’s believing that all must live according to some aspects that predetermines their lives. Among this ideology births the execution of these beliefs that have resulted in racism, genocide, segregation, marginalization, and oppression.

Being that this project at the Pauper Cemetery centers around those buried in it, it should not be taken lightly the surroundings of this area altogether. The pauper cemetery is located in the far back, presumably North, of the property in which is now owned by the Hillcrest Cemetery. To the Southeast of the property, is the historical landmark of Hidalgo County burials of officials and other notable public figures. And to the far Northwest, disconnected from the Hillcrest Cemetery completely, is the Restlawn section of the cemetery. The most segregated part of this land that notes obvious borders within burying the dead from the earlier times of the cemetery dating back to 1913.

The Hidalgo County Pauper Cemetery Project should address these specific borders within the property and also note the conditions of these graves within the pauper cemetery compared to that of the active portion and the landmark area. There is no question as to the happening of these solid lines consolidated onto the burial grounds from the time of establishment up until the end. Segregation was clearly in play here with the layout of this land and could be the reason why the pauper cemetery is so poorly maintained. It begs the question now of who is buried within these graves on the pauper field? Clearly, the pauper field is another word for poor man’s grave but does this only inherit the impoverished or does this also include the unwanted and disrespected?

Many of the names found on the descriptions of the legible headstones read in Spanish as well as those found in the respected area of the property by the historical landmark. So, maybe we cannot assume this segregation is also based on race but maybe only that of class status. I also want to mention the importance of what this project brings to the community in conditions that are representing the one’s who were not cared for, thus contributing to the social change we desperately need in the Valley.

I do not believe the practices we have executed through the process of data collection and research analysis have in any way displayed forms of inequality. I do not say this only in part that the majority of the members of this project are apart of this community but because it is clear we are all working towards the goal of representing each and every one of these graves properly and  educating the public of the existence of these burials.


0 thoughts on “Addressing Social Injustice Through Public Archaeology

  1. It makes sense what you say that the cemeteries burial differences might be based more on class status rather than race. The Rio Grande Valley is and has been majority Hispanics race, making the decease in both cemeteries mainly Hispanics (have Spanish names). Maybe, what one can focus on is the difference of last names. Where do their ancestor come from? Have they migrated here from Mexico or other areas? That last question might be more difficult to answer, but a family member of the decease maybe has the answer. In all, the segregation between Hidalgo County Public Cemetery and Hill-crest Cemetery does appear to be based on class status.

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