Margaret Alison Wylie
A study of philosophical topics at the advanced level. Topics vary.
“Research Ethics in Archaeology: Accountability, Conservation, and Stewardship” Archaeological practice raises profoundly challenging ethics issues. The central question we will address in this seminar is: to whom and to what are archaeologists accountable? It is often said that the primary goal of archaeology is to advance our understanding of the human, cultural past. But what happens when these goals come into conflict with the interests of those affected by archaeological research? In particular, what responsibilities do archaeologists have to those whose cultural heritage they study? Do archaeologists have an obligation to protect the archaeological record--to “save the past for the future”-- and how is this balanced against destructive investigation of the record? Should archaeologists work with archaeological material that has been looted and commercially traded? How should archaeologists navigate conflicts between the demands of employers, oversight agencies, and research goals when they work in industry or in government? These questions are at the center of debates that are changing the way archaeology is practiced. Most urgent are issues of accountability raised by descendant communities, especially Indigenous, Native American, and First Nations communities who call for a decolonization of archaeology. An ethic of stewardship has been proposed in response to these issues; one central aim of this course is to draw out the implications of stewardship ideals for archaeological practice. We begin with framing questions and then turn to the analysis of cases that raise, in concrete terms, these multi-dimensional issues of accountability. TEXTS: Readings will include selections from: Collaboration in Archaeological Practice: Engaging Descendant Communities (Collwell-Chanthaphonh and Ferguson 2008), Embedding Ethics (Meskell and Pells, 2005), and Ethical Issues in Archaeology (Zimmerman, Vitelli, and Hollowell, 2003).
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