You are here

Politics of Persistence: Heritage Landscapes and Cultural Identity in Native New England

Date and Time: 
Thursday, October 5, 2017. 05:00 PM - 06:30 PM
Meeting Location: 
Stanford Archaeology Center, Building 500
Archaeology--Political Landscapes: Past and Present
Meeting Description: 

Almost fifteen years of collaborative research with the Eastern Pequot of southern New England have offered a unique lens through which to view the persistence of indigenous identity and community in settler colonial contexts. This talk explores the ways that archaeology has played a unique role as a contemporary practice of social memory and sovereignty for this Native nation. This has been particularly true with respect to the reservation itself as a repository of cultural knowledge, a heritage landscape, a sacred space, a political fulcrum, an emblem of community, an environmental resource, and a node in a broader network of relationships in the region and beyond. Archaeologists can bring to the table a host of valuable perspectives on these issues in the past, but they must also be ready to stake a claim in what archaeology will and should do in the present. Notions of persistence collapse the change and continuity dichotomy, but they also collapse the artificial divide between past and present.

Stephen W. Silliman is Professor and Department Chair in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Massachusetts Boston. His research and publications focus on historical archaeology, colonialism, postcolonialism, community-engaged archaeology, indigenous histories, social identity, practice, and the politics of heritage, and he has conducted fieldwork in New England, California, Bermuda, and Japan. He has been the project director of the Eastern Pequot Archaeological Field School since its founding in 2003. In addition to more than 40 journal articles, book chapters, and essays, he has published four books.