University of Cambridge > > 33rd McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research Annual Lecture > Bearing Witness: Collaborative Archaeology in a Settler Colonial Context

Bearing Witness: Collaborative Archaeology in a Settler Colonial Context

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  • UserProf. Alison Wylie (University of British Columbia) World_link
  • ClockWednesday 11 May 2022, 17:00-18:00
  • HouseVenue to be confirmed.

If you have a question about this talk, please contact Lydia Clough.

There has been a powerful and insistent move to “decolonize” archaeology since the early 1990s. Bearing in mind the challenge posed by Tuck and Yang, that “decolonization is not a metaphor,” I explore the question of what’s required in practice to realize decolonizing ambitions in a settler-colonial context: do various forms of practice that fall along the “collaborative continuum” meet the challenges posed by a succession critics who insist that these models of practice either fail as archaeology, or fall short of realizing any significant transformation of the field? To make concrete the promise and the pitfalls of building collaborative partnerships that address these concerns I consider emergent and longstanding projects with Coast Salish communities, focusing on approaches to inquiry that conceive of it as a practice of “bearing witness.”

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BIOGRAPHY Alison Wylie holds a Canada Research Chair in Philosophy of the Social and Historical Sciences at the University of British Columbia where she is a Professor of Philosophy. She has a long-standing interest in philosophical questions raised by archaeology and feminist social science, for example: How do we know what (we think) we know about the past? In what sense are knowers and knowledge claims ‘objective’, given the ineliminable role of values and interests in all aspects of inquiry? And, how can research be held accountable, in its aims and practice, to the diverse communities it affects? Recent publications include “Radiocarbon Dating in Archaeology: Triangulation and Traceability” (Data Journeys in the Sciences 2020); Material Evidence (2015) and Evidential Reasoning in Archaeology (2016), with Bob Chapman; “Why Standpoint Matters” (2012 APA Presidential Address) and “What Knowers Know Well: Standpoint Theory and the Formation of Gender Archaeology” (Scientiae Studia 2017); “A Plurality of Pluralisms: Collaborative Practice in Archaeology” (in Objectivity in Science 2015) and “Collaborative Archaeology in Global Dialogue” (Archaeologies 2019). Since joining UBC in 2017 she has worked with the Indigenous/Science research cluster, and in that connection recently co-authored “Bearing Witness: What can Archaeology Contribute in an Indian Residential School Context” with Eric Simons and Andrew Martindale (Working With and For the Ancestors 2021).

Wylie is past President of the American Philosophical Association (2011-2012), and of the Philosophy of Science Association (2019-2020), and was recently elected to the Australian Academy of the Humanities and the Royal Society of Canada. She has a longstanding commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusiveness research and activism in the academy and beyond; she is currently working with a UBC -based philosophy collective on the “Philosophy Exception” website project.

This talk is part of the 33rd McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research Annual Lecture series.

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