When Past and Present Collide: The Ethics of Archaeological Stewardship

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When Past and Present Collide: The Ethics of Archaeological Stewardship

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Current Anthropology


Shoup, Daniel and Monteiro, Lyra

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Abstract: The Archaeological Institute of America’s (1999) code of professional standards requires that archaeologists “work actively to preserve the [archaeological] record in all its dimensions and for the long term” and “give due consideration to the interests of others” in their work. At the AIA’s 2006 annual meeting in Montreal, participants in a session entitled “When Past and Present Collide: The Ethics of Archaeological Stewardship” explored the implications of these obligations for the conduct of archaeology and suggested ways for  archaeologists to engage with stakeholder collaboration, site preservation, and political aspects of archaeology. Presentations by Lynn Meskell, Michael Galaty, Roger Atwood, Daniel Shoup, Ian Hodder, and Lyra Monteiro included case studies from South Africa, Peru, Albania, and Turkey. They examined when archaeologists should take sides in political conflicts over archaeology, how economic and social issues that are unrelated to archaeology can be decisive in site preservation efforts, whether acceptance of universal heritage values should be a precondition for inclusion of nonarchaeologists in stewardship planning, and when the actions of archaeologists themselves can be harmful to site preservation efforts. Rather than being prescriptive, these contributions offered a variety of perspectives and suggestions for integrating stewardship and collaboration into archaeological research.


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