, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 466–480 | Cite as

Collaborative Archaeology as Heritage Process

  • Bonnie J. ClarkEmail author


The archaeology of Amache, the site of a WWII-era Japanese American incarceration camp, has been performed collaboratively with survivors, their families, and local residents for over a decade. This makes it an exemplary test case for how research intertwined with multiple communities can recast our discipline’s relationship to heritage. Project success has been greatly enhanced though creating opportunities for intergenerational and intercommunity engagement with the site and others who care about it. Paying equal attention to process and product allows archaeology to be positively integrated into heritage building and brings epistemological resources to the study of the past.

Key Words

Heritage Methodology Japanese American internment Collaborative science 


L’archéologie d’Amache, le site d’un camp de prisonniers japonais-américains pendant la Seconde Guerre mondiale, a été entreprise de manière collaborative avec des survivants, leurs familles et des résidents locaux et ce durant plus d’une décennie. Ceci constitue un précédent exemplaire sur la manière dont la recherche lorsqu’elle est imbriquée au sein de communautés multiples peut redéfinir la relation de notre discipline avec l’héritage. Le succès du projet a été fortement accru grâce à la création d’opportunités en faveur d’une collaboration intergénérationnelle et intercommunautaire sur le site avec d’autres ayant un intérêt pour celui-ci. Une attention égale apportée au processus comme au produit permet à l’archéologie d’être intégrée positivement au sein de la construction d’un héritage et apporte des ressources épistémologiques à l’étude du passé.


La arqueología de Amache, el sitio de un campo de encarcelamiento para los japoneses-estadounidenses durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial, se ha realizado en colaboración con los sobrevivientes, sus familias y los residentes locales durante más de una década. Esto lo convierte en un caso de prueba ejemplar de cómo la investigación entrelazada con múltiples comunidades puede reformular la relación de nuestra disciplina con el patrimonio. El éxito del proyecto se ha mejorado enormemente al crear oportunidades para el compromiso intergeneracional e intercomunitario con el sitio y otros que se preocupan por él. Prestar igual atención al proceso y al producto permite que la arqueología se integre positivamente en la construcción del patrimonio y trae recursos epistemológicos al estudio del pasado.



This article would not have been possible without the three community members who kindly allowed me to weave their voices into this piece—Gary Ono, Carlene Tanigoshi Tinker, and Kirsten Leong. Each of them read through multiple drafts of this article to make sure I had captured and interpreted our interactions faithfully. They also provided suggestions for improving the article. In particular, Kirsten (who works with communities in managing their resources) suggested the TEK article and the UNESCO convention as thoughtful parallels to the Amache work. I would also like to thank my fellow authors to this special edition who gave me much food for thought. Among those, Audrey Horning and Kelly Britt served as my peer reviewers, and their suggestions strengthened this piece. The SAA session on which this special issue is based came about because of a partnership with Meredith Chesson and without her it would never have come to be. The DU Amache Project is truly collaborative and without my crews and the many communities from which they draw and with which they work, none of this archaeology would have happened. The work at the site has been supported by many institutions, in particular the University of Denver and History Colorado, through their State Historical Fund. Thank you to them and to the many individual donors who support research at Amache.


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Copyright information

© World Archaeological Congress 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of DenverDenverUSA

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