Collaboration in Archaeology Practice: Engaging Descendant Communities by Chip Colwell-Chanthaphonh and T. J. Ferguson

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  • Book Review

    Collaboration in Archaeology Practice: Engag-ing Descendant Communities. Chip Colwell-Chanthaphonh and T. J. Ferguson. Lanham, MD:AltaMira Press, 2008. 317 pp.

    SONYA ATALAY

    Chip Colwell-Chanthaphonh and T. J. Fergus-

    ons book adds to the literature on collaboration in

    the field of archaeology. It contributes directly to

    what is currently a very critical aspect of scholar-

    ship and teaching in archaeology as it focuses

    centrally on collaborative experiences from a range

    of temporal and geographic contexts. Discussions

    within archaeology about the need for collaboration

    abound, but few books discuss the range of positive

    and negative experiences of working with both

    indigenous and non-indigenous groups that are

    presented in this volume.

    The introductory chapter by Colwell-Chant-

    haphonh and Ferguson provides an excellent in-

    troduction to collaborative research in archaeology.

    It offers the right amount of detail on the history of

    archaeology as it relates to the issue of collabora-

    tion, and then follows with a compelling and well-

    researched theory of collaborative practice. The

    models they put forth of resistance, participation,

    and collaboration are excellent and well explained.

    The authors also outline their particular practice of

    collaboration, called collaborative inquiry, which is

    compelling and interesting. They place collabora-

    tion in a context of creating a new mode of

    knowledge production. This is an accurate assess-

    ment, and one that deserves further consideration

    within the discipline.

    Following the introductory chapter, the book is

    organized into three sections: Knowledge, Ethics,

    and Practice. This proves to be an effective and ap-

    propriate way of organizing the material. The first

    of these sections, focused on knowledge, includes

    three chapters from different geographic regions.

    Michael Adler and Susan Brunings chapter (chap-

    ter 2) addresses what is arguably one of the most

    important issues in archaeology todayFthat ofcultural affiliation with ancestral remains. The au-

    thors provide an overview of the role of cultural

    affiliation and point to the importance of fluidity

    and flexibility in research designs when conducting

    cultural affiliation research. The Grasping at Flu-

    idity section is particularly interesting, as the

    authors differentiate between external and inter-

    nal understandings. The background section on

    cultural affiliation is helpful in grounding the

    authors points and utilizes clear, well-chosen

    examples.

    Chapter 3, by Larry Zimmerman, is useful for

    archaeologists to read when thinking about their

    interactions with a range of non-archaeological

    communities. The discussion of Native American

    beliefs about the past and the ways that archaeolo-

    gists might best approach these is well stated

    and balanced. Two major highlights of the piece in-

    clude points related to validity and truth and the

    problematizing of archaeologists attempts to be

    gatekeepers of a communitys identity.

    Chapter 4, the final chapter in the Knowledge

    section, effectively engages with the question of

    differences in Western and indigenous knowledge

    systems and ways of seeing. Norm Sheehan and Ian

    Lilley provide engaging examples of the ways

    worldview can affect outcome. When I used this

    text in a graduate seminar on Indigenous Archae-

    ology students found these examples very com-

    pelling, and they led to productive discussions

    about knowledge and value systems.

    Part II: Ethics includes four chapters ranging in

    focus from museums in the United States, a

    National Park in South Africa, and intellectual

    property rights in Aboriginal Australia. The section

    begins with chapter 5 by Dorothy Lippert, who rai-

    ses important points about the practice of

    archaeology within the museum repatriation con-

    text. Some of the strongest and most notable points

    in the chapter include a discussion contrasting

    the view of authority versus one of responsibility.

    Another important point raised is in reference to

    135

    & 2009 by the American Anthropological Association. All rights reserved.DOI: 10.1111/j.1548-1379.2009.01047.x

  • Vine Deloria Jr.s thoughts on the incapability of

    the scientific approach to relate the humanness of

    our people. Here Lippert provides a strong en-

    dorsement for the collaborative process brought

    about by the implementation of the Native

    American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.

    Later in the chapter, Lippert makes a powerful

    point in drawing parallels between what the

    government did to living Native people with relo-

    cation and what they have done with the dead in

    museums.

    Lynn Meskell and Lynette Sibongile Masuku

    Van Dammes contribution to the book (chapter 6)

    relays the collaborative efforts being undertaken

    in South African National Parks. This chapter

    adds in important ways to the global scale of this

    book, and demonstrates the complexity of heri-

    tage ethics when working with diverse descendent

    communities.

    The interview with Leigh J. Kuwanwisiwma,

    director of the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office,

    and Ferguson, an archaeologist and one of the

    books editors, is a must read. It presents critical

    points about productive ways to carry out collabo-

    ration and strategies for facing obstacles that may

    arise in the process. This chapter is one that many

    Native communities would benefit from as it pro-

    vides information that is both interesting and

    helpful in organizing and planning for collabora-

    tive research with archaeologists.

    Claire Smith and Gary Jacksons chapter (chap-

    ter 8) clearly reflects the long-term commitment of

    the authors to the Australian Aboriginal commu-

    nity with whom they work. The style and prose

    are clear, concise, and enjoyable to read. The chap-

    ter provides tangible examples of Aboriginal

    protocols for research and points to the need for

    respecting differences in knowledge systems

    when developing anthropological codes of ethics.

    Respect, responsibility, flexibility, appropriate per-

    missions to protect intellectual property, and

    sharing of benefits are some of the key points dis-

    cussed.

    Part III, the books final section, takes on the

    topic of Practice. Thomas Cuddy and Mark P.

    Leones chapter (chapter 9) focuses on historical

    archaeology in the United States, adding to the di-

    versity of the geographic and temporal topics in

    this book. It is theoretically engaged yet has a

    clearly defined practical component and is well

    written and concisely presented. Both this chapter

    and Paul A. Shackel and Favid A. Gadsbys chapter

    on memory and class in a working class community

    in Baltimore (chapter 10) point directly to the appli-

    cability of collaborative strategies in archaeological

    research outside of indigenous communities. The

    data tables and site maps in Cuddy and Leones

    chapter provide an engaging example that is bol-

    stered by segments from historical documents.

    Shackel and Gadsbys work in Balitmore includes

    first-hand accounts that act to raise consciousness

    about class history in the area.

    A strong point of Michael Heckenbergers chap-

    ter (chapter 11) is his theoretical argument, which

    includes important ideas about knowledge produc-

    tion that may have positive effects on future

    collaborative research in archaeology. This is de-

    rived from the authors work in the Amazon.

    Although I found some of the participatory strate-

    gies that he describes to be unclear at times and

    not as participatory as they could be, the chapter

    does include useful information about conservation

    practices.

    George Nicholas, John Welch, and Eldon Yellow-

    horns chapter (chapter 12) is the books final

    chapter. The authors do a very good job of sharing

    their varied experiences and of drawing conclusions

    based on the similarities of their work with three

    different First Nations communities in Canada. I

    particularly liked the emphasis on the with, for,

    and as aspect of their collaborative work. One im-

    portant contribution of this chapter that the others

    do not include is a brief section discussing the as-

    sessment of success in a collaborative project.

    Colwell-Chanthaphonh and Ferguson have pro-

    duced a well-organized edited volume that is

    enjoyable to read, and covers critical topics in the

    right amount of detail. It is appropriate for

    multiple audiences, including academic and non-

    academic readers. Researchers who are looking

    for guidance on developing collaborative research

    projects will find a range of case studies to follow,

    and the collection provides an overview to some of

    the current practices and challenges for students

    who are just starting to think about field methods

    and how to incorporate collaboration into on-the-

    ground field practices. This may also be a volume

    that communities will find useful when thinking

    about working with academic researchers collabo-

    ratively, as there are solid examples of things that

    136 MUSEUM ANTHROPOLOGY VOLUME 32 NUMBER 2

  • worked well in other communities, and some words

    of caution about things that were not so successful.

    Sonya Atalay in an Assistant Professor of Anthropol-

    ogy and an Affiliate of the Center for Archaeology in

    the Public Interest in Indiana Universitys Department

    of Anthropology. She conducts archaeological field-

    work in the Middle East and the Great Lakes region

    of the United States. Her research interests include

    indigenous and community archaeology, collabora-

    tive methodologies, postcolonial and decolonizing

    research, clay and ceramics analysis, and cultural

    and intellectual property.

    BOOK REVIEW 137

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