Stakeholders and Complexities

The stakeholders for the HCPCP consist of anyone within the Hidalgo County who may have a vested interest in the Hidalgo County Pauper Cemetery. Many communities exist in the valley, though this does depend on what one would consider a ‘community’, as discussed in the blog prompt. The prompt asks, “How might these changing conceptions of community implicate how we identify those we should work with – the publics in our public archaeology?” To this I would answer: In Hidalgo County, cultural diversity plays a large role. While community may at one point have referred simply to those one might live in close proximity with or see at local social spots, it can in this situation refer also to others within the same cultural circle. This does not necessarily refer to racial groups, but groups of individuals who engage in similar cultural practices. In addition to this, groups of a particular financial status may become inadvertently lumped together by society.

Communities which may include the cemetery and individuals within as members might be: the Mexican-American community of Hidalgo County (as many individuals buried in the cemetery were more than likely local, Mexican-American residents), the Mexican community residing within Hidalgo County (as some individuals in the cemetery may have originally arrived from Mexico), the community of individuals living below the poverty line in Hidalgo County (as the Rio Grande Valley deals with issues of financial inequality) and the Hidalgo County as a whole (because the cemetery is located within the county and should therefore be a concern of the county). Of the individuals working on this project, some may consider themselves to be a part of the communities we are working with. Speaking for myself, I can claim to be a resident of Hidalgo County, but having lived here for only the last three years, I am not fully immersed in the community.

The prompt also asks, “Should we be conducting investigations without cultural affiliation?” I would say, yes, so long as the investigations are done in a thoughtful, educated and respectful manner. In La Roche and Blake’s (1997) article, “Seizing Intellectual Power: The Dialogue at the New York African Burial Ground”,  the reasoning behind the resistance of the “African American descendant community” in part, “ensured that the spiritual aspects of the site would not be lost in the face of scientific inquiry (Laura 1992; S&S Reporting 1993)”(p. 1). Potential power dynamics between communities with interest in this project would primarily exist between those (our class included) interested in identifying and preserving archaeological knowledge found within the cemetery and the communities which may be unsure or questioning of our motives. La Roche and Blake’s (1997) article discusses the complex history between African-Americans and Euroamericans, stating, “The potential for stereotypical, sterile, and denigrating interpretations of the site based on morphometric analysis became increasingly apparent to the African-American community”( p. 6). In this particular project, it is imperative that we are aware of historical, cultural and social interpretations and remain sensitive and respectful of the complexities involved in  this work. Keeping these communities informed of our motives and involved in the process is key.


La Roche, C., & Blakey, M. (1997). Seizing Intellectual Power: The Dialogue at the New York African Burial Ground. Historical Archaeology, 31(3), 84-106. Retrieved from

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *