Archaeology and the Wider World Presented at the 77th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology

, Memphis, Tennessee in the symposium “Lessons from the Trenches”: The Pedagogy of Archaeology and Heritage Frances. M. Hayashida Dept. of Anthropology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque NM 87108 Email:

Introduction Over the past fourteen years I have been teaching primarily undergraduates at large public universities. My students include archaeology concentrators, but most are anthropology majors or minors from other subfields, or students from other departments. My primary goal is to turn out informed, critical thinkers with a stronger understanding of and interest in their place in the world. A second goal is to help them see how a comparative and historical (including archaeological) perspective can inform our thinking and actions in the modern world. A third goal, particularly for archaeology concentrators, is to train them in methods, theory, and research design, but also in the sociopolitics and history of archaeological practice to prepare them for the issues they will face as professionals. Finally, I want students to be able to clearly communicate their new knowledge, ideas and skills in oral and written form. In this paper, I share some of my experiences in developing and teaching courses to reach these goals. While none of these classes are specifically in cultural heritage management, they are designed to help students gain a deeper appreciation for why history and the tangible remains of past cultures matter, which is a foundational value for protecting archaeological sites and remains. Example 1: Archaeological Methods, Theory and Practice Archaeological Methods, Theory, and Practice was originally designed for the Society for American Archaeology’s curriculum reform MATRIX (Making Archaeology Teaching Relevant in the XXI Century) Project (2003), which was directed by Anne Pyburn of the University of Indiana. The goal of the project was to create a series of courses that could serve as a resource for archaeology educators that were based on the SAAs Principles of Archaeological Ethics

(1996), which focus on stewardship of the archaeological record, accountability to the public, protection of resources from commercialization, public education and outreach, protection of intellectual property, public reporting and publication, preservation and responsible use of records, and adequate training and resources. Project participants included course designers, as well as content and pedagogical advisors. I was the course designer for Archaeological Methods, Theory, and Practice and have now taught it at three different institutions as a required upper-division course for archaeology concentrators. I had previously taught the course as a fairly straightforward introduction to method and theory in archaeology. While developing it for MATRIX, I chose to emphasize archaeological research design (i.e., questions, their theoretical foundations, the methods used to collect the evidence to answer those questions, possible outcomes and interpretations, and the links among those four components). I selected topics with contemporary relevance, e.g., our place in nature, the origins of inequality and its maintenance, gender identity and relations, and warfare. Students were also introduced to archaeological practice and ethics by discussing equity in American archaeology; the meanings and treatment of human remains; history, heritage, memory and commemoration; and public archaeology. As the students explore these topics, they also have a series of parallel assignments centered on a book-length archaeological study. Each student works with a book of their choosing from a list provided by me that forms the foundation for three papers and two presentations meant to reinforce their understanding of archaeological research design and hone their research, analytical thinking, writing, and public speaking skills. The first paper analyzes the research design of the chosen study; the second focuses on an aspect of the study and is written for the public in the style of an article for Archaeology magazine. For this paper, students are encouraged to take the role of the excavator (the study’s author) or of a participant in the fieldwork. This assignment is followed by a mock presentation for a 5th grade class. The final paper asks the students to consider “what would you do next?” at their study site or region, and to create a research proposal to present in written and oral (slide talk or poster) forms. The proposal requires additional library research to define and develop the project’s research questions and how they would be addressed.

Students find the proposal to be the most challenging assignment but most step up to the task. Because they have worked with the same study over the course of the term, and because we discuss the research design of all the projects we read about in class, they have a foundation to start with. I make some allowances to simplify their work (e.g., they can assume unlimited funds and do not have to produce a budget, they can assume perfect preservation). I have gotten

papers that were on par (in terms of sophistication) with proposals that I have seen from advanced graduate students, and several students who have gone on to graduate school have commented on the usefulness of this assignment. All students hopefully emerge from the exercise with a much stronger understanding of the research process, where our questions come from, and how they are answered. The most enjoyable assignment (for the students and for me) is the mock presentation for fifthgraders. I have been surprised (though perhaps should not have been) to see how much college students embrace the idea and challenge of public outreach, especially to children. Here again, I let them take the role of project directors and participants; if the class is large, students work in small groups (based on having read the same study). i They are also allowed to bring in mock artifacts and other objects to share with the audience. I encourage the students to be interactive and to pose questions to the “children” (their classmates), who are only too happy to respond in their role as ten-year olds. The last time I taught the class, the presentations got increasingly elaborate with each new group. While most presentations featured “artifacts”, one group who was working on a study of diet reconstruction in lowland Central America, also brought in tropical fruit to share. They were followed by a group explaining “their” study of domestic architecture and social organization in the Pacific Northwest, who not only brought in “artifacts”, but also an extremely well-made replica of a pithouse,ii which they let the students examine as they passed out slices of smoked salmon. While the students are not graded on the elaborateness of their displays or the sumptuousness of their snacks, I have been impressed by how enthusiastically and creatively they have approached the assignment. While a course on public archaeology would ideally include working with local teachers and preparing actual presentations for schoolchildren, this exercise introduces students to the necessity of outreach and to the challenges (and some of the rewards) of presenting archaeology to the public.

Example 2: Archaeology for the Politically Engaged Non-Archaeologist In the last couple of years, I have developed and taught two classes at the University of New Mexico that cross subdisciplines in anthropology. Food, Foraging, and Farming was originally designed as a capstone class for undergraduates and incorporates readings and perspectives from archaeology, ethnology, and biological anthropology. The development of Indigenous People and Conservation was supported by UNM’s Latin American and Iberian Institute, and is a combined undergraduate and graduate student course that can be taken for archaeology or ethnology credits. The majority of slots are reserved for undergraduates. Both classes center on contemporary issues: the environmental, health, and social problems tied to our modern industrial food production and distribution systems in the Food class, and threats to indigenous rights from conservation initiatives and development in the Indigenous People class. I will focus here on the Food class. In Food, Foraging, and Farming, we begin by reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma (Pollan 2007) and viewing Food, Inc. (2008). Students also keep a “food chain journal” for 24 hours, where they are required to trace, as best they can, every ingredient for every item they consume and to identify where it came from, how it was raised, and who raised, processed, transported, and distributed the food and their working conditions. For most students, this is the first time that they have had to consider where their food comes from, and the environmental and social impacts of our industrial food system. They also come to understand how aberrant our current system is, when viewed against the backdrop of long-term human history, where we have for the most part, hunted, gathered or raised our own food, or knew the producers, resulting in much closer ties between people and the environment and each other. To make this point, we dive from the present into the Paleolithic, where students read a suite of articles on diet and human evolution. This is followed by readings from the various anthropology subfields on huntergatherer adaptations to and management of the environment (that includes an introduction to archaeobotanical methods); plant and animal domestication (which informs later discussions on GMOs); storage and feasting (to examine the origins of food as political currency); the ecology and culture of non-industrial farming (e.g., agroecological knowledge, organization of smallscale farmers); and food justice (worker welfare, food gaps,iii food justice movements).

The class is capped at 30 students and is discussion based. Before each class meeting, students are required to post to the course website a reading response and one or two discussion questions. The responses cannot be simple summaries but must demonstrate a deeper engagement (by commenting on the links to other readings, course themes, current events, or personal experience). The questions must be designed to generate discussion and cannot be simple requests for more information. Before each class, I group the questions by theme (adding a question or two if there is something I also want to cover), order the themes, have the questions printed out, and use them to structure the class discussion. I also draw on the responses during our discussion in class (e.g., I may ask a student to share observations or ideas from their response). On occasion, and for particularly “big” (more philosophical or ethical) questions, I divide students into small groups to talk among themselves before sharing their ideas with the class. Having the discussion based on student generated questions does two things: (1) lets students know they have an investment in the course (the discussion is only as good as their level of preparation and the quality of their questions) and (2) helps ensure that all students participate (for they all submit questions and I will often go to the question’s author to get their opinion). While there are always quiet students, I have noticed that those who are more shy or hesitant in the beginning of the term do warm up and participate more as the course proceeds. Students also write three papers for the course and do one oral presentation. Two of the papers are essays on material we have all covered in the readings; the third and the presentation are on a research topic (usually chosen from a list that I provide) that complements the course material. For example, during our section on feasting, students present on alcohol and the legitimation of power and on Inka storage systems; during the section on the ecology and organization of farming, students speak on Mayan tropical forest farming and agrobiodiversity conservation in the Andes; in the section on food justice, we have presentations on poverty and obesity, food gaps in New Mexico, and the diabetes epidemic among the Pima and Tohono O’odham. Fellow class members provide anonymous peer reviews to the presenters. iv For each research topic, I always provide one or two “seed” articles or chapters to get the students started. We also visit the library at the beginning of the term for an introduction to bibliographic resources, including the online databases (like Web of Knowledge and WorldCat) and instruction in how to access, request, or find (on a library shelf!) references for the projects. Again, I have been impressed by the effort that most students put into the research project, in part I believe, because they have to

present their ideas to their peers whom they have gotten to know through our discussions and their presentations. This course also typically has a lively discussion board, with students sharing resources and links related to topics discussed in class. Food, Foraging, and Farming is an elective and primarily draws students who are not specializing in archaeology. My impression is that most archaeology students are deeply interested in the past and less interested in current events and issues. Some of those who do sign up are grappling with the relevance of archaeology. The other students who enroll (the majority) are concentrators in other subfields or majors from other departments, often with an interest in food, farming, and sustainability issues. There are always a few students who are from farming families or who have worked on a farm. The archaeology is not what motivates the second group to take the class, and they often have little interest in the deep past at the start of the term. But once they are hooked by our initial discussion of the modern food system and its pathologies, they are ready to consider how we have related to the environment and to each other throughout our long history as foragers and farmers. I liken the process of “sneaking” lessons about archaeology and its relevance to disinterested non-archaeologists to wrapping a bitter pill in bacon or smearing it with peanut butter before giving it to a dog. They gobble it down, it’s good for them, and hopefully the effects are long lasting. My impression is that students interested in issues of environmental and social justice are more politically engaged, more likely to vote, and more likely to be or become informed, concerned, and active citizens. My hope is that after this course and the one on indigenous people and conservation (which takes a similar approach), their concerns will also include the preservation and protection of cultural heritage. Summary Observations I have a third example, a course and study tour co-designed with an agroecologist colleague titled Strategies for Sustainability: Case Studies from Peru that looked at farming systems through time in the Andes in their ecological, historical, and political contexts. The course included a week-long visit to Peru to visit archaeological sites, an experimental farm, research centers, markets and a potato farming community. In the interests of brevity, I will not describe this course in similar detail, but rather conclude with several points that I have learned from teaching these classes:

 

Through course topics that center on contemporary issues, students can come to appreciate archaeology’s contemporary relevance When archaeology is put into dialogue with other (sub)disciplines, students come to appreciate that an historical grasp of the human experience can help them to assess critically contemporary lifeways and engage problem solving more effectively Traditional mainstays of the archaeology curriculum can be revised to encourage students to develop a more expansive view of the constituencies that are interested in the past and role of archaeologists in promoting certain understandings of heritage

It is my intent to further develop these preliminary conclusions in a subsequent draft of this paper.

References cited: Food, Inc. 2008 DVD, 91 minutes. Los Angeles, Magnolia Home Entertainment.

Pollan, Michael 2007 The Omnivores Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals. New York, Penguin.

Pyburn, Anne 2003 M.A.T.R.I.X. (Making Archaeology Teaching Relevant in the XXI Century. Electronic document, , accessed April 7, 2012

Society for American Archaeology 1996 Principles for Archaeological Ethics. Electronic documents,, accessed April 7, 2012.


If they work in groups, part of a student’s individual grade is based on his/her evaluation by other group members, (and students are given explicit evaluation guidelines). This helps prevent the unevenness in contributions that often occur in group projects.


I am pleased to report that the student who made the pithouse has just been accepted into Teach for America, where she will hopefully incorporate archaeology into her lessons (and perhaps can even use her pithouse again). iii “Food gap” refers to the lack of access to affordable, fresh and healthy food in poor communities (urban and rural) as the control of food production and distribution becomes increasingly centralized. iv I like to think that the exercise of peer reviewing helps a student with his/her own presentation, but am not sure how to assess that.

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