Activist Archaeology and Creative Solutions

  • Author: Gerry Wait
  • Topic: Heritage studies
  • Related Congress: 13th Congress, Dakar

The reality of climate change is upon us, and each year billions are spent to respond to the impact of climate change. A world wide recession is equally real, and adds a layer of concern for how public money is spent. Expert archaeologists were never abundant, time and money were never plentiful, and for the next few years are likely to be in even shorter supply. For over the last 50 years, archaeology and heritage management have also taken a very ‘conservative stance’ — shying away from engagement with current
social and political concerns and becoming ensconced in an ivory tower of archaeology done by an elite for an elite. This paper questions whether that was ever a good or ethical stance, and argues that an ‘Activist Archaeology’ which deliberately seeks to answer ‘What difference does this make to the ordinary citizen today’ is a more socially aware and responsible discipline. This has fundamental implications for our approach to why politicians should be convinced to direct funds towards heritage management, what creative solutions we should adopt, and how we should pursue archaeology in the future.

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