Anarchism, Ethics, and Pedagogy in Engaged Archaeology

I recently presented on some preliminary ideas regarding the intersection of anarchism, archaeology, and engaged anthropology. I presented this as part of the Radical Archaeological Theory Symposium (RATS) held at SUNY Binghamton on October 17, 2019. See below for the abstract and a video version of the lecture.

Title: Anarchist Ethics and Engaged Pedagogy in Historical Archaeology: A Case Study from Rosewood, Florida

Abstract: The desire to produce new collaborative models for archaeology, particularly historical archaeology, has resulted in a number of named ‘solutions’ to how we make archaeological practice more inclusive. Labels like public, applied, engaged, collaborative, and activist have emerged in recent years in an effort to generate new archaeologies addressing an ever-widening system of sensitivities. Anarchism presents a praxis-oriented theory, and as this paper demonstrates, articulates with such concerns in direct ways. Creating an openly anarchist archaeology encounters a number of difficulties requiring specific pedagogical approaches to effectively deconstruct. One of the chief impediments to this approach is confronting the immense, negative stereotypes portraying anarchy as a chaotic, anti-organizational, and violent ideology. My chapter begins by exploring these popular definitions of anarchy as revealed through hundreds of informal surveys with undergraduate students at the University of Florida. A review of early anarchist thinking demonstrates that most nineteenth century anarchist writers anticipated such misconceptions and provide us practical solutions for dissolving such tropic misrepresentations. Then, a discussion of anarchism as a philosophy of education leads into the author’s experience with anarchism to create an archaeology of redress in Rosewood, Florida – site of a 1923 race riot which destroyed this majority African American town. My own experience with anarchism as a theoretical and practical philosophy has opened up new research potentials; and more importantly transformed my personal practice of archaeology towards one emphasizing community-centered praxis. Anarchism presents a neat and novel theory of engagement for archaeology. An anarchist archaeology motivates us to abandon harmful hierarchical posturing, democratize archaeological knowledge and methods, and actually supports now traditional roles of archaeologists as researchers, teachers, and advocates.

Watch the video version of the lecture below:

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