Tag Archives: heritage

The World of Columbus Day is Flat

For Ty Tumminia: comrade, friend, anti-fascist, Black liberationist.  Last time we wrote, Andy Pragacz and I were exploring the spaces around Binghamton christened for Christopher Columbus, and how they came to take his name.  Today, we take that a bit further and ponder the Italian connection to Columbus, and why that narrative no longer serves the Italian community. Since the ethnic and race rebellions of the 1960s, Columbus’ place in the pantheon of American heroes has been jeopardized. By the 1990s, scholars annually sounded his final fall. Marking the 500 year anniversary one scholar confidently concluded that, like Custer before him, “it is now Christopher Columbus’s turn at the chopping block” (Lunenfeld 1992, 137). Twenty-five years later, Columbus is still in the American Olympus, but rather than seated next to Franklin, he’s dangling from the edge. Articles like “Should the United States Celebrate Columbus Day?” and “How Columbus Day Fell Victim to its Own Success”are commonplace around the 12th of October. Protesting Columbus Day is, in 2017, as much a part of the Columbus Day tradition as Italian flags. As the above Atlantic writer notes, the day is “marked by parades, pageantry, and buckets of fake blood.” So, Why does [Read More]

The Columbian Geography of Binghamton

As state employees and school children around the country enjoy their four-day work weeks, we at MAPA are hard at work deconstructing Columbus day, like any credible archaeology blog must. I am back, with my colleagues Andy Pragacz, to talk about Columbus commemorations. Thanks to BlackLivesMatter activism followed by far-right reaction, monuments, particularly of Confederate soldiers, have seized national and local news, bringing many archaeologists into the controversy: Rosemary Joyce and Paul Mullins, to name a few. As Columbus Day approached, many statues of Christopher Columbus were similarly ­­­­­­­­­questioned. Baltimore’s monument to Christopher Columbus, the first monument to the man in the United States, was smashed in August of this year. After recent vandalism of similar monuments in New York City, police are guarding the Columbus Circle monument in Manhattan from future attacks. Some in Minneapolis have suggested that a statue of Prince should replace their Columbus monument. In our own city of Binghamton, the statue of Christopher Columbus that adorns the Broome County Court House was spray painted “murderer” twice in as many weeks.  Binghamton residents tossed vegan bologna at a portrait of Cristobal Colon in Columbus Park, temporarily renamed Bologna Park for the occassion. The Columbus of  1492 is [Read More]

Bears Ears (Revisited) – All About Landscapes

Howdy! Last September, I wrote about the controversy surrounding the creation of Bears Ears National Monument, in Utah. I argued that while we as a nation have inherited the public lands of Southeastern Utah, that does not necessarily mean we own them. Furthermore, I suggested that as a consequence of the history of power relations in the U.S. West, “local” communities should not have “disproportionate power and authority to dictate land management strategies” on adjacent public lands. At the time, it was not certain whether or not the monument would be created. Well, in the waning days of his administration, President Obama used his authority under the Antiquities Act of 1906 to designate a new 1.35 million acre national monument – Bears Ears became a reality. The designation was applauded by conservationists, environmental groups, archaeologists and tribal groups. For others, the monument came as a bitter pill, and opponents of the designation decried it as a “federal land grab.” Considering that nearly all the acreage that became Bears Ears National Monument was already administered by either the Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management, I’m not entirely sure who the federal government “grabbed” it from. I presume that opponents are referring to the possible removal of vast [Read More]

Cases for Comparison: Two Other Sites of Labor Conflict

Last week I wrote about the Battle of Homestead, and the Waterfront shopping mall that now occupies the site, but not all locations of class warfare are reused in such an extreme fashion.  As two examples, I propose the cases of Pullman, Chicago and Ludlow, Colorado, where I plan to do my dissertation research this summer. Pullman George M. Pullman built the Pullman neighborhood of Chicago as a model town for workers in his train car factory.  He believed that with cutting edge homes, his workers would have elevated status from workers in other companies and that this would encourage moral behavior and strong work ethic.  The so-called utopia of Pullman was spatially separated from the city of Chicago.  To this end, housing was organized by class, where executives and “skilled” workers lived closest to main attractions, and “unskilled” workers’ homes were placed on the outskirts.  In addition to model housing, Pullman residents enjoyed markets, banks, libraries, and parks, as long as they signed a lease, agreeing to the regulation of their behavior. In 1894, workers in the Pullman train car factory went on strike due to a wage cut. While their pay decreased, rent in their company houses remained [Read More]

Public Engagement Abroad: Peyre Blanque Archaeological Project

The last few posts for MAPA, I’ve been discussing different aspects of public engagement. As part of that I wanted to talk about public engagement in a non-american context, how its different, and why those differences create a whole different type of archaeological heritage. In an earlier blog post, I discussed the ways in which we engage with the pubic as archaeologist, and how it can be technically more difficult than it first seems. In many ways these are site or project specific. I went to talk with BU faculty members Dr. Sébastien Lacombe (Director) and Dr. Kathleen Sterling (Co-Director) who together run a project in southwestern France called the Peyre Blanque Archaeological Project.  The project has been running for the last 9 years, and aside from having amazing archaeology, it has a pretty amazing relationship with the public too. I sat down with both Dr. Sterling and Dr. Lacombe to get their perspectives on public engagement at Peyre Blanque and how it differs from American archaeology. First some background on Peyre Blanque. The project is a very rare Upper Paleolithic “open-air” settlement (more precisely a Middle Magdalenian, about 16,000 BP) located on top a ridge. Not surprisingly a modern hiking trail runs along side it. In many cases, a [Read More]