Working Alongside: community archaeology in post-native title Australia

Buhrich, A., McIntyre-Tamwoy, S., and Greer, S. (2019) Working Alongside: community archaeology in post-native title Australia. In: Jameson, John H., and Musteatja, Srhiu, (eds.) Transforming Heritage Practice in the 21st Century: contributions from community archaeology. One World Archaeology . Springer, Cham, Switzerland, pp. 97-112.

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Abstract

The recognition of Australian Indigenous peoples' "native title rights" in 1992 formally acknowledged the deep and unbroken relationship between Aboriginal people, place and culture. Although community-based archaeology had been practised in Australia since the 1980s, the enactment of native title legislation introduced not only an ethical, but in many cases a legal requirement to work with relevant Indigenous people (known as Traditional Owners in Australia) on cultural heritage research aims, methodology and management of information. The recognition that native title persists has led to other shifts, such as Aboriginal Traditional Owners are now considered as custodians with authority for cultural heritage within their estates, rather than simply stakeholders. The flow on effects of the recognition of native title has given rise to an increase in the incorporation of Indigenous research aspirations and new research partnerships (e.g. Brady and Bradley 2014; Doring and Nyawarra 2014; May et al. 2005; Porr and Bell 2011; Ross and Davidson 2006).

Despite the liberal use of the term "community-based approach" discussion continues about what constitutes community-based archaeology as compared to a general consultative approach. Consultative approaches in archaeology involve a process of negotiation in which the archaeologist sets the research agenda and the community has the opportunity to react to this. The consultative approach is appropriate and ethical for a wide range of archaeological studies and remains the most prevalent model in the archaeological consultancy realm as projects are often triggered by development conditions and are subject to tightly constrained time frames. In contrast, Aboriginal people have greater agency in the community-based approach at all steps in the research process. Essentially, the consultative approach differs from the community-based approach which is interactive rather than reactive (Greer et al. 2002: 267–268). The community-based approach described here follows the lead of Greer (1996), Layton (1992), Taçon (1994), Brady (2010), Brady and Kearney (2016) and others (Domingo Sanz et al. 2016; Clarke 2002; Cole et al. 2002; Greer 2010; Greer et al. 2002; May et al. 2005, 2010; McIntyre-Tamwoy 2002, 2011; Smith 1992, 2010).

A prerequisite of the interactive approach is the definition of elements of contemporary community identity that underpin the development of research interests and which inform issues of methodology and practice (Greer et al. 2002: 268). In the research project described here, one of the authors (Buhrich) approached individual communities with the aim of comparing rock art style across the Wet Tropics, but also invited communities to develop mutually beneficial outcomes based around this research. What emerged from this was a new community-based model described below as "working alongside".

Rather than align a research project with community aspirations, the working alongside model asks communities to identify projects that meet their aspirations that could work in tandem with the proposed research. This "grassroots" approach recognises that histories and cultural geographies influence community aspirations and capacity. A working alongside approach must be adapted for each individual circumstance and would look differently in different communities. This is different to an ethnoarchaeological approach, such as that applied by Calwell-Chanthaphonh and Ferguson (2010) and Liebmann (2018) in southwest USA, although it does acknowledge distinct traditional knowledge, history and cultural geographies can help us understand the past. Working alongside is also different to Atalay's (2012) community-based participator research (CBPR) in Turkey, where, although community knowledge is an essential component and project methodologies are based on open communication and shared decision making, academic research is the primary driver. The working alongside model is perhaps most similar to the critical approach to community-based heritage projects discussed by Lyons (2013) who recognises that products, process and outcomes of a community-based project must be negotiated through a shared decision-making process.

Item ID: 59956
Item Type: Book Chapter (Research - B1)
ISBN: 978-3-030-14326-8
Keywords: working alongside,community archaeology,indigenous rights, native title, rainforest people, Wet Tropics World Heritage
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Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC)
Projects and Grants: ARC Discovery Grant Objects of Possession: Artefact Transactions in the Wet Tropics of North Queensland, 1870–2013
Date Deposited: 04 Sep 2019 00:02
FoR Codes: 21 HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 2101 Archaeology > 210101 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Archaeology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9503 Heritage > 950302 Conserving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage @ 100%
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