Gary Warrick: "Community archaeology in South Africa -- rock shelters, rock art, and the 19th century British colonial legacy"
recent archaeological work involved colonialism here in southwestern
Canadian archaeology has become primarily compliance-based, providing evaluation of locations for development. In his Six Nations research, Warrick worked with the community and -- “this is important,” he said -- discovered great interest on the part of local indigenous people in participating and sharing in the research.
project, he began thinking of the responsibility of the academy to the rest of
the world, looking at ways that archaeological research can make contributions
to real communities and contemporary society.
His current project, in many ways, builds on his experience in
First, with the help of a South African PhD student, he will be doing an analytical study of the rock art that still survives in the rock shelters in the valley.
He will include the oral history component mentioned above, interviewing descendents of the 19th century residents – the community has a strong oral tradition and stories of that period have survived.
will be doing community archaeological research on the rock shelter sites in
the area where the San, the indigenous people in the
In describing his project, Warrick repeatedly used the phrase “community archaeology.” There is a significant difference between community archaeology, which actively involves the people in the subject area, and traditional archaeology, which has tended in the past to dig and then leave, often taking the artifacts away from the community. According to Warrick, the ethical way of doing international archaeology includes real community involvement and capacity-building, always asking the question “how is this going to benefit the descendents of these people?”
Part of the
reason that Warrick has already been welcomed and had much of his project
approved by local authorities is the fact that he plans to involve the
community. Living in a marginalized
rural area, the
also commented on how international researchers must, after all, do “double
duty.” In some ways, it’s much easier to
do research at home in
Still, he recognizes a huge potential not only for the scholarship that will result but the capacity-building for the local people that will accompany his project. He anticipates being a “richer person” for investigating the community possibilities in his research.