In response to urgent calls to address systemic racism in all spheres of institutional life, a group of archaeology centers based in the United States have come together to identify avenues for concrete change. Since July, center directors and representatives have been meeting via Zoom to consider ways to move archaeology forward towards greater diversity, equity, and inclusion.
The initiative emerged out of conversations that began in the wake of the murder of George Floyd between the Society of Black Archaeologists (SBA), the Indigenous Archaeology Collective (IAC), the Wenner-Gren Foundation, SAPIENS, and the Cornell Institute of Archaeology and Material Studies (CIAMS). In our search for effective strategies, it quickly became clear that archaeology centers have a fundamental role to play as key institutional loci of undergraduate recruitment, graduate student training, and faculty development.
The Archaeology Centers Coalition includes representatives from CIAMS, the Archaeological Research Facility at UC Berkeley, the Archaeological Research Center at UC Santa Cruz, the Andrew Fiske Memorial Center for Archaeological Research at UMass, Boston, the Columbia Center for Archaeology, the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA, the George Washington University Capitol Archaeological Institute, the Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology at Brown University, the Peabody Institute of Archaeology at Phillips Academy Andover, the Stanford University Archaeology Center, the Scripps Center for Marine Archaeology at UC San Diego, the University of South Alabama Center for Archaeological Studies, and the Museum of Anthropological Archaeology at the University of Michigan.
The first initiative of this coalition is the development and support of a webinar series entitled “From the Margins to the Mainstream: Black and Indigenous Futures in Archaeology”. Beginning last July and continuing through April 2021, this webinar series seeks to reshape the stories that archaeology tells and who tells them. Key themes include monuments and memory, the archaeology of redress, and cultural stewardship.
The Archaeology Centers Coalition is also seeking to define avenues of impactful change in four key areas: curriculum and training, administration and finance, the culture of archaeology, and capacity building and community engagement. In the coming months, the group anticipates developing a series of recommendations on best practices for overcoming traditional barriers to inclusion. Through these conversations, the SBA, IAC, and Wenner-Gren will work with archaeology centers to help bring substantive change.