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Archaeology and Communities

Binghamton University archaeologists are committed to working with modern peoples to help them build and maintain vibrant communities in control of their pasts, presents, and futures. To this end, they collaborate with modern groups to undertake research that is of use to them and that serves their interests.  In this collaboration, modern communities become full partners in the research process and archaeologists include multiple voices and perspectives in their research.  This community focus is particularly strong in regards to indigenous groups where issues of repatriation, heritage and cultural survival are most important.  Nina Versaggi works with the Haudenosaunee of upstate New York on issues of repatriation and heritage. Siobhan Hart has developed a project in New England that engages diasporic Native American descendent communities, local residents, institutions, and avocational and professional archaeologists in the investigation, interpretation, and stewardship of a 17th century Native American fort site.  Ruth Van Dyke is developing a field research program with the Navajo Archaeological Program to study the role of Athapascans and Pueblos in the ancient history of western New Mexico.  Randall McGuire has collaborated with the Yaqui of Sonora, México on matters of repatriation and cultural survival.

We also extend this commitment to communities within a broader public. Through the Public Archaeology Facility's Community Archaeology Program (CAP), Nina Versaggi engages the public in local research projects. These projects acknowledge that the "public" values the past for reasons beyond the research archaeologists so fervently practice.  Local heritage projects provide communities with a tangible connection to the past and offer ways for passive constituents to become stakeholders and advocates for preservation initiatives that are mutually beneficial. Randall McGuire co-directed the Archaeology of the 1913-1914 Colorado Coalfield War, a project that collaborated with the United Mine Workers of America to research labor conflict.  William Isbell has received an award from the Ayacucho Instituto Nacional de Cultura for his contributions to the history and culture of their region.  He has worked with the Ayacucho Business People's organization on numerous projects that promote education, development and tourism related to their local history, culture and archaeology.

Binghamton archaeologists not only work with present communities in understanding their past, but also with research on how various kinds of communities were constituted in the past. We all, past and present human beings, live in multiple communities, some of which may be practical, others of an imagined nature. William Isbell has investigated the relation between such imagined and natural communities.  Randall McGuire has focused on the emergence of short-lived communities in labor strikes.

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Last Updated: 9/5/14