Emplacing the Local


The Place of Archaeology: Re-membering Local Histories

Wesleyan University

A new trend, community-based projects in historical archaeology, purports to do the work of public history because when working with communities, archaeologists engage diverse local constituents into the histories of the sites they excavate. This move towards participatory archeology addresses epistemic anxieties in the field by allowing archaeologists to go beyond simply providing new facts about the past. In this talk I explore whether participatory archaeology might go beyond the work of public history. Through a preliminary discussion of my work excavating the Beman Triangle in Middletown, I argue that community-based research projects also have the potential to radically alter the way in which historical places become constituted as such. Experiencing history through excavation allows for new reflections by participants on the dialectic of past and present, brought together into a single location as they excavate. Community archaeology offers the opportunity for participants to reflect, in new ways, on the role of the past that still exists in the contemporary place in which they live. In this manner, sites can become “re-membered”; participants engage corporeally with sites, bringing pasts into the present in an evocative way.

MONDAY, APRIL 29, 2013  |  6 P.M.  |  RUSSELL HOUSE