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Archaeologists and the DeadMortuary Archaeology in Contemporary Society$
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Howard Williams and Melanie Giles

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198753537

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198753537.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 05 December 2021

Reflections on Intersections of Mortuary Archaeology and Contemporary Society

Reflections on Intersections of Mortuary Archaeology and Contemporary Society

(p.433) 20 Reflections on Intersections of Mortuary Archaeology and Contemporary Society
Archaeologists and the Dead

Lynne Goldstein

Oxford University Press

Growing up in my family, we were taught that education was the solution (or one of the most important solutions) to many problems. So, it is not so surprising that I once believed something that many still believe—that education about archaeology will result in better public understanding of what we do, and some level of agreement vis-à-vis the value of archaeology. After experiencing that this long-held belief (or perhaps more accurately, hope) was not always true, I realized the obvious fact that someone can be educated on a topic and still disagree with you. Education does not guarantee agreement with the educator (see Goldstein and Kintigh 1990 for another discussion of this point regarding human remains and mortuary sites). In other words, there is not a single truth, especially on this topic. This is certainly not to argue against education, it is just a reminder about realities. For this volume, Giles and Williams invited eighteen papers from archaeologists who have struggled with a wide range of topics associated with the intersection of mortuary archaeology, public archaeology, and contemporary society. This intersection provides the space and the opportunity for examination of problems and issues that are often not raised in discussions of archaeology or public archaeology or contemporary society alone. The breadth, depth, and diversity of perspectives presented in this volume are both fascinating and enlightening. The chapters are often self-reflexive and attempt to be fair, looking at multiple sides of very complex issues. Museums, governments, news media, and other archaeologists would be wise to carefully read these papers. As an American archaeologist who conducts archaeology in the USA, I find the case studies especially important and relevant since most of the examples are not constrained by the kinds of post-colonial circumstances that exist in the USA and countries like Australia (this is not to say that there are not other constraints in the case studies). At a minimum, these papers represent a different set of perspectives on problems with which all archaeologists and museum professionals have struggled. The volume is unusual because the authors do not simply state their opinions and present certain facts; they use a variety of tools to try to determine what happened, how public opinion may be measured, and how decisions are made.

Keywords:   Africans, NAGPRA (Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act), Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA)

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