Twenty-First Century Colonialism in Maya Archaeology

Archaeologists, whether willingly or unwittingly, have played a role in promoting colonialist structures that oppress indigenous people in countries around the world. Nowhere has this been more evident today than in El Petén, Guatemala.

Weaving Environmental Knowledge and Oral Tradition

Oral tradition influences the way people interact with the social and physical world around them and transmits knowledge and institutions that affect cultural norms, behavior, and the environment.

What the (Prehistoric) Shell?

Archaeology involves the interpretation of material culture from peoples in the past. But we rely on contemporary theoretical concepts and analytical tools to study the objects that we find.

Museums and the Restitution of Cultural Property

The policy of restitution raises many questions. These questions are an invitation to reassess the role of museums, curators, and professionals within a system of appropriation, or rather possession and disaffection, which has failed to communicate the moral, historical, and scientific implications of separating an item from its historical context.

What Did the Moon Landing Do for Archaeology?

It is true that the moon landing did not do much for archaeology. Yet, the space program and the space race, the military-industrial complex of the late 1950s and 1960s, along with other lines of research, created the fundamentals of what we use in spatial technology in archaeology today.

Building a Diverse and Inclusive Archaeology

How can we build a diverse and inclusive archaeology when the unequal access to our discipline starts at such a young age? If we want to understand the nuances of human history, we must make sure it is not about rich white people . If you run public outreach programs, I invite you to think carefully about to whom you direct these programs, and who shows up, and make a change to broaden your audience. If we each do our part, we can build a discipline that is as diverse as the past peoples that we study.

Archaeology of Menstruation

Worldwide, the amount of ethnographic and textual work on menstruation is disproportionate to the amount of archaeological work on the subject. Research into menstruation at Deir el-Medina is a step forward in the process of understanding how we can question the archaeological record to learn more about menstruation and its surrounding behaviors.

Practicing Heritage Means Life or Death in Rwanda

In Rwanda, the field of heritage production is dominated by the central government. National museums and memorials are part of the government’s efforts to establish a usable history for the country, where politicized divisions between ethnic groups, reinforced and reified during colonialism, resulted in a devastating genocide in 1994. Establishing a singular narrative and identity—along with the life-or-death stakes—means that the democratizing practices advocated within heritage scholarship circles are unlikely to gain traction.