Connecting Issues: Reflections

A central goal of “Materializing Indigenous Histories” is to collectively learn from the experience and practice of the four research nodes that make up this project

As a connecting node, our aim is to facilitate an ongoing, collaborative process of reflection on the work of these partnerships. We aim to help ensure that our network embodies the values to which we aspire and addresses broader questions about what works and what doesn’t in the context of partnerships between Indigenous communities and archaeologists. This requires an “emergent design” approach. We are developing a more specific research program through a process of consultation with the node leads and the Advisory Committee.

The Reflections node began the consultation process with a round of project-wide meetings, where the lead researchers of each node outlined the history and goals of their partnership. We have since met with each node individually to explore, in more detail, questions about how their partnership works and how their practices are shaped by their distinctive institutional, cultural, and historical contexts.

The result thus far has been to frame a set of questions about current archaeological guidelines for collaborative practice, which assume discrete categories of non-Indigenous, typically academic researchers who are working with Indigenous communities in long-term partnerships. Evident from our initial meetings is that we need to be thinking in terms of a much greater diversity of relationships and roles — even our small sample of node leads includes a mixture of Indigenous researchers, non-Indigenous employees of Indigenous communities, and lab-based and independent researchers who work with a number of different communities on a project-specific basis. These roles raise quite different questions about what makes for good practice and a well-functioning partnership with Indigenous communities.

Therefore, we aim to expand the scope of existing guidelines for collaborative practice, updating the “collaborative continuum” model that has been influential for several decades to take into account the diversity of types of partnership we have begun to identify.

In addition to this work on good-practice guidelines, two complementary projects are taking shape. The first will identify issues that arise from institutional constraints and obligations that configure collaborative partnerships, with a focus on role-specific conflicts of interest that can arise when the expectations of the institutions that employ researchers or fund their research are at odds with those of Indigenous communities, or when several Indigenous communities have divergent interests in a partnership project. The second is to explore questions about why Indigenous and archaeological partners do what they do, and what qualities they value in their partners. We’ll be posting updates on this cluster of projects as they take shape.

UBC Crest The official logo of the University of British Columbia. Urgent Message An exclamation mark in a speech bubble. Caret An arrowhead indicating direction. Arrow An arrow indicating direction. Arrow in Circle An arrow indicating direction. Arrow in Circle An arrow indicating direction. Chats Two speech clouds. Facebook The logo for the Facebook social media service. Information The letter 'i' in a circle. Instagram The logo for the Instagram social media service. External Link An arrow entering a square. Linkedin The logo for the LinkedIn social media service. Location Pin A map location pin. Mail An envelope. Menu Three horizontal lines indicating a menu. Minus A minus sign. Telephone An antique telephone. Plus A plus symbol indicating more or the ability to add. Search A magnifying glass. Twitter The logo for the Twitter social media service. Youtube The logo for the YouTube video sharing service.