Following a very positive and promising start to the new Public History Seminar with Rebecca Conard’s talk on civic engagement last month, we’re delighted to have Professor Alison Wylie of the Departments of Philosophy and Anthropology, University of Washington and Visiting Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study, University of Durham, speaking on the topic ‘Negotiating the past: Collaborative practice in cultural heritage research’. Responding will be Dr Laura Peers of the Pitt Rivers Museum and School of Anthropology, University of Oxford.
The seminar will be held on Wednesday 7th November in the Athlone Room (102) of the Senate House, University of London, at 17:30 and followed by a drinks reception. All are warmly welcome.
Archaeology has seen a major sea change in the last few decades as any number of stakeholders, especially Indigenous, Aboriginal, and First Nations descendant communities, demand accountability to their interests, their conventions of practice and conceptions of cultural heritage. What are the implications of this for archaeological practice? Internal debate in North America has been dominated by anxieties about the costs of response to these demands: the focus is on high profile examples of research opportunities lost and professional autonomy compromised by legal constraints and by intractable conflict. All too often this obscures local initiatives that illustrate what becomes possible when practice is reframed as a form of intellectual and cultural collaboration. In the case of collaborations with Native American communities, the archaeologists involved describe innumerable ways in which their research programs have been enriched, empirically and conceptually. I explore the legacies of community-based collaborative practice in archaeology, focusing on their implications for procedural norms that govern the adjudication of empirical robustness and credibility. I argue that conditions for effective critical engagement must include a requirement to take seriously forms of expertise that lie outside the research community.