Tag Archives: public archaeology

The Authorized Heritage Discourse of Labor, and why it matters

To wrap up, I’d like to consider the cases I’ve presented as they work within the Authorized Heritage Discourse. While united by the gravity of the events, the centrality of steel, coal, and trains to the modern United States, and my dissertation research- Homestead, Pullman, and Ludlow present three starkly contrasting ways of memorializing labor, and three stunning examples of the Authorized Heritage Discourse at work. At Homestead, the Authorized Heritage Discourse of the Waterfront Shopping Center is one of industry and nation building. When the history of the site must be confronted, (usually out of physical necessity) it is done so in a way that emphasizes the might of steel, and by extension, the United States because of it. This is a sanitized account of the history- where the Battle of Homestead, and workers at Homestead are relegated to the periphery- both figuratively in the narrative, and literally in the organization of the mall. At Pullman, the original Authorized Heritage Discourse of a model town is maintained, as the model homes that occupy it were built to last.  The history told of Pullman remains one of quaint historic homes, and what would have been state of the art amenities. [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]

Labor Heritage at Homestead

The Battle of Homestead marks the historic defeat of the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers (AAISW) by the Carnegie Steel Corporation at the Homestead Steel Works in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. At the time of the strike in 1892, the Carnegie Steel Corporation, owned by Andrew Carnegie, was the world’s largest manufacturing firm, and AAISW was the nation’s strongest union. The Battle of Homestead The Battle began as a lockout on June 28, 1892 (Burgoyne 1979:33). Workers were upset with the sliding scale wage system, in which the selling price of steel determined wages (Demarest Jr. 1999:25. On July 6th 1892, two barges carried 300 Pinkerton Detectives (hired by the Carnegie Steel Corporation) up the Monongahela River to the Homestead Steel Works. Workers and Homestead citizens, including women and children, confronted the boats near the mill’s still standing Pump House, and a battle erupted (Krause 1992:15-16). Workers and Homestead residents took up all matters of defense against the Pinkertons, including a Civil War cannon taken from a nearby park.  Luckily for the workers, the outnumbered Pinkertons surrendered by the end of the day. Many were injured, and two or three Pinkerton men died (Krause 1992:25,34-39, Burgoyne 1979:92) After the worker’s [Read More]

Heritage of Labor Conflict in the United States

Hey there! I’m Maura Bainbridge, PhD Candidate at Binghamton and next up on the MAPA blog.  This month I will be talking about my research, that is – labor heritage in the United States. Many former MAPA blog posts have talked about heritage issues (Hey Ashley! Hi Angela!) but I aim to do so in the context of labor, particularly labor conflicts. Situating Heritage  I’m choosing to engage with heritage, rather than history, because heritage leaves room for personal identity- as people living today pick and choose bits of the past to identify with. (Though constructions of history are a fertile issue for another blog series.) Capitalism, and thus labor relations, are implicated in heritage production as more goods (tokens of memory to place aspects of identity into) are created, and the past is actively bulldozed over, reinforcing the need to remember before it’s too late (Connerton 1989). Laurajane Smith (2006) presents the concept of ‘authorized heritage discourse,’ (AHD) as the official narrative of the past. The AHD focuses on beautiful objects, sites and places.  These must be preserved for future generations “for their ‘education’, and to forge a sense of common identity based on the past.” This discourse commonly [Read More]

Mentoring Session for Careers in Archaeology: Government Archaeology Work

In keeping with my goals of networking to further my career opportunities (see post “Networking for Introverts”), I signed up for the Mentoring Session for Careers in Archaeology for Government Archaeology Work. This is a new session, sponsored by the Queer Archaeology Interest Group and the Committee for Status of Women in Archaeology, during which small groups of graduate students and young professionals were matched up with archaeologists experienced in the subgroup topic – other groups talked about Work/Life balance, discrimination in the workplace, moving from graduate school to tenure track and other topics, all within the lens of the challenges particular to women and queer folks in archaeology. I wasn’t exactly what the format or discussion topics would be, but as a queer woman entering government service, I want to take advantage of every chance to talk to and learn from others in the know – and I’m so grateful for QAIG and COSWA for setting up the event. I hope they continue to provide opportunities to discuss these topics in a safe and open environment. For the Government Archaeology table, we had two excellent mentors – David E. Witt from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation [Read More]

The Western Klamath Restoration Partnership

I’ll be kicking off 2017 on the MAPA blog with a post about meaningful tribal collaboration, traditional ecological knowledge and preventing natural disasters on federal lands. I am Paula Hertfelder, MA/PhD student at Binghamton University and Pathways Intern with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) at the Six Rivers National Forest in northern California. I started work this past summer on the Western Klamath Restoration Partnership (WKRP) – an interdisciplinary collaborative formed between the Karuk Tribe, the U.S. Forest Service, the Mid-Klamath Watershed Council (MKWC) and other stakeholders. This collaborative partnership addresses concerns over the increasingly devastating wildfires in the West in part by using traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) and land management. It has also led to a successful collaboration between USFS and Karuk Tribal archaeologists, which has improved heritage resource management efforts. The WKRP is a case study of successfully integrating TEK and Western science, collaborative work, and how TEK can be incorporated into the expectations of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) when assembling an Environmental Assessment (EA). When conducting an EA, NEPA requires consultation with a range of stakeholders on varying concerns. There are many examples of TEK incorporation into the NEPA process, especially in different National Park [Read More]

When Archaeologists Teach the Law

When I left my job as an attorney to study archaeology, I assumed I was leaving the law behind. But one of the things that has surprised me most in my new life is just how much work archaeologists do in teaching the law. Time and again, in undergraduate seminars, at excavation sites, at museums, in field schools, at national parks, or online, I’ve watched archaeologists and anthropologists educating people about Section 106, NAGPRA, historic preservation law, the Antiquities Act, the legal history of Native American dispossession and public lands, or the finer points of Native American sovereignty. Many archaeologists seem uncomfortable with this role, though. If I’m around and they know my background they’ll sometimes look to me as if I might be able to chime in and clarify everything. The truth is that many professional archaeologists know much more about these areas of law than most lawyers do. My law practice mostly involved product liability and insurance law. When I started my PhD program, I could have told you all about the laws regulating dangerous products but almost nothing about any of the laws that surround archaeology. Only once in my legal career did I even have a [Read More]

Can Archaeology Make the World Safe for Difference? (or Confronting Race in Trump’s America)

A Serious Project: Confronting Race in Trump’s America “This is a serious project,” Toni Morrison wrote in the days after Donald Trump’s election, in an essay entitled Mourning for Whiteness. “So scary are the consequences of a collapse of white privilege that many Americans have flocked to a political platform that supports and translates violence against the defenseless as strength. These people are not so much angry as terrified, with the kind of terror that makes knees tremble.” Toni Morrison’s words strike deeply into discussions of race over the past few weeks. To many, these are threatening words; they shake comfortable realities, are difficult to grasp and easy to dismiss. To others, they speak a deep truth that has been rubbed raw by the upsurge in bigotry and violence since the election. This post discusses racial justice and archaeology, but it also discusses action. In the wake of just two weeks of uncertainty, violence, and fear, there is so much work to be done. We have been inundated with liberal think-pieces about how and why we are faced with a Trump presidency. The Democratic platform failed to appeal to voters of color. It abandoned the white working-class in the small [Read More]

Part II: Eroding – How the Archaeology of Climate Change Denial is Threatened by Climate Change

For Part II of the mini-series on climate change, we welcome guest blogger Kevin Gibbons, a fourth-year PhD student in the Zooarchaeology Laboratory at the University of Maryland. In Part 1 of this series, we surveyed some of the roles that archaeologists are playing in grappling with climate change. Archaeologists are engaging in climate change research to better understand how societies have coped with shifting environmental conditions in the past. We’re also confronting the significant loss of cultural heritage due to increased erosion, thawing, flooding, pollution, development, and other such threats in the present day. Political Challenges to Accepting a Species’ Worth of Responsibility It is no secret that the issue of climate change is contentious within American political discourse. The very existence of global warming is debated by the Republican Party and its elected officials. The Republican presidential nominee has asserted that it’s a Chinese hoax to somehow hamper the American manufacturing sector. While this denial appears to be an insidious combination of political expediency, conflicting economic interests, and a result of years of denigrating intellectualism, rationalism, and the scientific process, it’s also served to block any meaningful dialogue within Congress about how to address our collectively harmful impacts on [Read More]

Part 1: Archaeology and Climate Change – Past, Present, and Looking to the Future

Public Archaeology and Climate Change: Intersections and Trajectories Climate change is not an issue that has been central to the election this year. We rarely hear the two major candidates discussing the issue, it was given minimal time in the debates, and there has been little media coverage of the candidates’ views. However, with global surface temperatures and Arctic sea ice extent consistently breaking records, and CO2 concentrations surpassing the 400ppm threshold, climate is an issue that should be on everyone’s minds this election season and beyond. This is especially true given that the next President will be responsible for keeping the US in line with the recent Paris Agreement – the most comprehensive and stringent climate agreement ever to be entered by the US. Archaeologists can – and indeed, are – playing a significant role in improving the science contributing to our understanding of climate change and raising awareness about its trajectory, historically and as we move into coming decades. Two key roles stand out: first, archaeologists can help shed light on the past effects of climate change upon human societies, and second, we can raise awareness about the ways that climate change is affecting us in the present: our sense [Read More]