, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 514–535 | Cite as

Can Archaeology Help Decolonize the Way Institutions Think? How Community-Based Research is Transforming the Archaeology Training Toolbox and Helping to Transform Institutions

  • Sonya AtalayEmail author


Engagement with communities is increasing within universities, museums, and other institutions, including state, federal, and local agencies. Scholarly literature is filled with case studies of the challenges and positive outcomes of community-based research projects. The next necessary step is systemic change within our discipline and our institutions to transform them toward more decolonized models and systems that are collaborative and sustainable in a world that’s in a time of tremendous crisis and change. I argue that, due to two decades of experience engaging with communities, community-based archaeologists have skills that can help transform institutions.

Key words

Decolonizing universities Community-based archaeology Indigenous knowledge 


La collaboration avec les communautés s’accroît au sein des universités, musées et d’autres institutions, notamment les organismes de l’état, fédéraux et locaux. Les publications universitaires regorgent d’études de cas sur les défis et les résultats positifs des projets de recherche basés dans une communauté. La prochaine étape nécessaire est celle d’une réforme systémique au sein de notre discipline et de nos institutions afin de les faire évoluer vers des modèles et systèmes plus décolonisés, et qui se révèlent collaboratifs et durables dans un monde confronté à une crise et des modifications considérables. Mon argument, s’appuyant sur deux décennies d’expérience d’une collaboration avec des communautés, est que les archéologues basés dans une communauté ont des compétences pouvant contribuer à la transformation des institutions.


El compromiso con las comunidades está aumentando dentro de las universidades, museos y otras instituciones, incluidas las agencias estatales, federales y locales. La literatura académica está llena de estudios de casos de los desafíos y resultados positivos de los proyectos de investigación basados en la comunidad. El siguiente paso necesario es el cambio sistémico dentro de nuestra disciplina y nuestras instituciones para transformarlas hacia modelos y sistemas más descolonizados que sean colaborativos y sostenibles en un mundo que está en un momento de crisis y cambios tremendos. Sostengo que, debido a dos décadas de experiencia en la interacción con las comunidades, los arqueólogos comunitarios tienen habilidades que pueden ayudar a transformar las instituciones.



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Copyright information

© World Archaeological Congress 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Anthropology DepartmentUniversity of Massachusetts AmherstAmherstUSA

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