Stakeholders of the HCPCP

This blog post is based upon the readings on stakeholders in Public Archaeology. I make references to Anna S. Agbe-Davies’s Inside/Outside, Upside/Down: Including Archaeologists in Communities and Cheryl J La Roche and Michael L. Blakey’s Seizing Intellectual Power: The Dialogue at the New York African Burial Ground.

Our project is called the Hidalgo County Pauper Cemetery Project and i firmly believe the stakeholders of this entity are the Hidalgo County and the University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley because the institution, specifically Dr.Rowe, proposed this project in not only to educate students who seek work in the field of archaeology but to also promote change and contribute to the community here at Edinburg.

The Valley occupies the vast amount of South Texas that is home to over 1.5 million people with the majority having a Mexican-American background. The predominance of Hispanic culture is expressed through all areas of exposure but what still appears to lack is history. As infrastructure multiplies and revenue steadily increases through new business, our history in the Rio Grande Valley is still somewhat patchy or misinterpreted. Much of this history includes important figures who contributed to this growth and expansion of the Valley who are very well our ancestors. To some extent, i can relate to La Roche and Blakey on the matter of community engagement being a necessity to conduct research because of authentic representation. It is important for not only the owners of this cemetery for also the communities that are linked to these graves and the location, in general. Communities such as Mexican-Americans and possibly low-income  fall into the groups in which we must involve ourselves with in exposing these changes for re-identifying and data collection.

I personally believe it is essential that we as conductors and members of this project affiliate ourselves with the families and the city we are working with. As mentioned in the McGhee article from the prior week’s readings, he mentions that the purpose of this project should not be labeled under research project but as a community organizing and/or development. Like that of the CHAPS program, this Hidalgo County Pauper Cemetery Project is to represent the one’s who have been forgotten through neglect of maintenance and the socioeconomic struggles that led for these individuals to be buried in the conditions that they were.

The conditions of most of the graves found at the Pauper field indicate low-income that result in alternative materials used to build markers for these graves as well as inscriptions because headstones could have been a luxury; and to be frank, still are. So it is imperative that we keep in mind the many roles we play in order to achieve the success for this project such as community engagement, local historic reformation, a solid relationship with the groundskeeper who have allowed us to conduct research on land, and actively speaking on the topics and issues that surround this project through media and publication.

As far as power dynamic within the communities we have been and will be working with under HCPCP, it may not be known exclusively that any community and/or relative to a passed one located on the cemetery can play a huge part in data collecting and verifying documentation in site. This is why it is crucial that we spread the construction of this project within communities in the city as well as on campus at University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley to recruit others who can provide quality information.

The existence alone of this project having to due with re-identifying and representing past history respectively under the provision of the county shows that there is a purpose in this work to really create a positive narrative for the Valley.

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