Pursuing Social Justice Through Collaborative Archaeologies in Aboriginal Australia

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Journal Article
Archaeologies, 2019, 15 (3), pp. 536 - 569
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© 2019, World Archaeological Congress. This paper identifies the emergence of the pursuit of social justice as a core focus of collaborative archaeologies in Aboriginal Australia. A wide range of case studies are examined, especially in relation to efforts to redress a ‘deep colonisation’ that silences Indigenous histories and fails to engage with Indigenous voices or experiences. This research is part of a wider global movement of community-based, activist and engaged archaeology that encompasses two principle approaches to social justice: the redistribution of resources and goods and the politics of recognition. It is informed by a more general concern with human rights, structural violence and ethical globalisation. In Australia, social justice archaeologies are both confronting, in terms of frontier violence, intentional structural violence and racism, but also inspirational/aspirational, in terms of Aboriginal nation building and the cultural facilitation of Aboriginal research ethics. The development of collaborative projects between Indigenous peoples and (Indigenous and non-Indigenous) archaeologists can be challenging. Indigenous archaeologists face particular challenges, including balancing sometimes conflicting expectations from communities with the demands of the profession. For non-Indigenous archaeologists, the challenge lies in the shift from working with Indigenous peoples to working for Indigenous peoples as part of a process in which social justice outcomes are a product, rather than a by-product, of archaeological research.
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