Randall H McGuire

Grant Type

Workshop Grant

Institutional Affiliation

New York, Binghamton, State U. of

Grant number

Gr. CONF-842

Approve Date

February 14, 2020

Project Title

McGuire, Randall (New York, Binghamton, State U. of) "Archaeology for Whom: Heritage, Community and Reactionary Populism "

At the end of the 20th century, many archaeologists argued for a liberal, collaborative, multi-vocal approach to research. They put archaeologists in service of the people, especially communities of the “oppressed”. They charged archaeologists to collaborate with people to produce usable heritage that advanced the interests of communities. In the 21st century, the idea that archaeologists should serve communities has become the norm in much of the world. Since 2016, a wave of reactionary populism has washed over the world, and it has affected how archaeology relates to publics, heritage and ethics. It embraces nationalism, racism and anti-intellectualism while nostalgically seeking to restore an earlier state of society and regain a perceived loss of privilege. The very communities that scholars wish to embrace as vehicles of progressive social change may reject multi-vocality for the seduction of reactionary populism. Many of these communities may disappoint liberal scholars by being greedy, patriarchal, xenophobic or uninterested in the real past. In this transformed world, an archaeology defined by collaboration with communities may not serve the liberating goals of a social archaeology. Our workshop will rethink social archaeology and collaboration with communities. For us it is not a question of either/or, but rather of complementing community archaeology with other practices.