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Why Archaeologists Misrepresent Their Practice—A North American Perspective

Issue: Vol 2 No. 2 (2015)

Journal: Journal of Contemporary Archaeology

Subject Areas: Archaeology

DOI: 10.1558/jca.v2i2.28206


The statement “we are all archaeologists now” is an assertion of archaeology’s democratization thus goodness. It is also a gross misrepresentation of how archaeology is practiced daily, especially in colonized settings like the United States and Canada. Archaeology is today—as it has always been—an elite undertaking that serves elite class interests. Since 1950, archaeology has become increasingly bureaucratized and corporatized, and today the vast majority of archaeology is state-sanctioned but highly privatized cultural resource management. As a technology of government designed to control living Indigenous people and their resources, we suggest archaeology is becoming radically less democratic, not more, and ask why archaeologists so routinely misrepresent their profession.

Author: Richard Matthew Hutchings, Marina La Salle

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