Commitment, Objectivity and Accountability to Communities: Priorities for 21st Century Archaeology

Bibliographic Information

Article Title

Commitment, Objectivity and Accountability to Communities: Priorities for 21st Century Archaeology

Journal Title

Conservation and Management of Archaeological Sites


Ronayne, Maggie

Year of Publication


Volume Number


Issue Number


Article Pages


Web Address (URL)

Additional Information

Available Through

Taylor & Francis Online




Abstract: It is no longer possible to ignore the unprecedented levels of destruction resulting from development projects imposed by multinational corporations and governments. In this context, it is important to address the role archaeology and related professions, such as heritage management, play from the perspective both of the threat to physical heritage and our relationship with affected communities. This paper explores ways in which professionals can learn to work in a mutually accountable way with communities opposing destructive development, and together seek alternatives to development which threatens lives, livelihoods, culture, and environment. Case studies from the Boyne Valley and Tara in Ireland, Ilisu dam in Turkey and the Oaxaca valley in Mexico, illustrate some of the issues. The implications of the growing privatization of professions, particularly for communities in the Third World whose poverty undermines their power to refuse even the most globally devastating developments, making it imperative that professionals look again at what we aim to accomplish and how much we are actually accomplishing it. As professionals we cannot afford to be ignorant of what communities want, need and are entitled to in order to develop and flourish. Archaeology and people's cultural roots are not separable from these questions.

Additional tags: local communities; ethical engagement; development; destruction of cultural resources; threats to livelihoods; case studies in Ireland, Turkey, and Mexico


RPA Codes & Standards

CIfA Codes

Keywords & Terms

Topics & Issues