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Lunch Club Series: Memories of the Archaeological Experience

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Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Anthropology at Harvard University



As we remember an archaeological site, what are we forgetting about the place that holds and symbolizes a reconstructed past?

Archaeological research across the world has increasingly emphasized community-based practices to evaluate the impacts of archaeology and heritage creation on descendent and indigenous stakeholders who often have been removed from the narrative archaeology helps reimagine. This talk centers on the prehistoric archaeological site of Qijiaping in the Tao River Valley in Gansu Province, China. At Qijiaping, local ethnic Dongxiang Muslim residents, who arrived Qijiaping a little more than a century ago, do not identify as being ethnically or culturally linked with the archaeology, but their connection to archaeological activities makes them stakeholders who have likewise been elided as the archaeological site is remembered. In this talk, I share the results of the ethnographic research I conducted at and around Qijiaping since 2014 and discuss the “archaeological experience” of how the archaeological site of Qijiaping came to be.

“Archaeological experience” is defined by the sum of all the lived experiences in the process during which an archaeological site is created, from surveys and excavations, to the subsequent reconfigurations of the landscape by the needs to reconstruct an ancient story. By viewing the “archaeological experience” as part of the heritage that defines Qijiaping, the Qijiaping Dongxiang community does not have to identify with the archaeological culture to be considered stakeholders of archaeological and heritage concerns.

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