Co-Creation and Public Archaeology
In August of this year my colleague Elizabeth Bollwerk and I published a special thematic issue of the Society for American Archaeology’s Advances in Archaeological Practice titled Co-Creation and Public Archaeology. The practice of co-creation has proven a guiding force in my professional practice over the past few years. I initially came across the concept in Nina Simon’s synthesis and elaboration of an ongoing discussion in the museum community over the past couple of decades. Since that time I have developed my own understanding of the co-creative practice that prioritizes addressing the community’s expressed needs. In 2012, along with Natalye Tate, Elizabeth and I co-edited a volume of Museums and Social Issues on the co-creative theme. As someone who has worked as an archaeologist for the better part of my professional career, I am very pleased with the publication of this new peer-reviewed volume on the subject of co-creation by a leading organization of professional archaeologists in the United States. I believe an application of the co-creative practice will be key to the future of the discipline.
Below is the abstract to the Introduction Elizabeth and I co-authored with a true leader in the field of public archaeology, Carol McDavid.
This paper serves a dual purpose. First it is an introduction that aims to frame a set of papers that describe and discuss the process of co-creation in a variety of archaeological projects. We discuss the challenge of community engagement in public archaeology and offer co-creative practice as a method for improving our relationships with descendant communities and the general public. We begin by providing a definition of public archaeology and a brief overview of its evolution over the last few decades. Second, we discuss co-creation’s origins and utilization in the museum and business sectors, where the process is applied to address challenges similar to those archaeologists face. We then demonstrate how co-creation fits into the public/applied archaeological framework. We argue that co-creation must be both co (that is, share power in some way) and creative (that is, not just do the same things better, but do something new). Within this framework, we discuss how co-creation aligns with and informs current trends in public archaeology practice drawing from the case studies included in this issue. We conclude that co-creation has an important place on the collaborative continuum and can help our discipline become more responsive to the needs of our many publics.
And here is the table of contents for the volume that includes studies from throughout the Americas. I hope that you will find these articles helpful as you go about your professional practice.
- Co-Creation as a Twenty-First Century Archaeology Museum Practice
pp. 188-197. Robert Connolly.
- Survivance Stories, Co-Creation, and a Participatory Model at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center pp. 198-207. Kimberly Kasper and Russell G. Handsman.
- Making the Past Relevant Co-Creative Approaches to Heritage Preservation and Community Development at Hualcayán, Ancash, Peru pp. 208-222. Rebecca E. Bria and Elizabeth K. Cruzado Carranza.
- Co-Creation’s Role in Digital Public Archaeology pp. 223-234. Elizabeth Bollwerk.
- Promoting a More Interactive Public Archaeology Archaeological Visualization and Reflexivity through Virtual Artifact Curation pp. 235-248. Bernard K. Means.
- Co-Creation of Knowledge by the Hopi Tribe and Archaeologists pp. 249-262. T. J. Ferguson, Stewart B. Koyiyumptewa, and Maren P. Hopkins.
- Sleeping with the “Enemy” Metal Detecting Hobbyists and Archaeologists pp. 263-274. Matthew Reeves.
- Cemeteries as Participatory Museums: The Cemetery Resource Protection Training Program across Florida pp. 275-290. Sarah E. Miller.
- Building Capacity for Co-Created Digital Moviemaking through Youth Programs pp. 291-300. Teresa S. Moyer.
- Turning Privies into Class Projects pp. 301-312. Kimberley Popetz