Ethics in Anthropology and Archaeology

Discipline: Anthropology
Instructor: Six
Credits: 3
Day: A
Start: 1550
End: 1710
Field Work: Day 4 - Thursday, 23 October | Spain Download Syllabus

This course will provide an overview of the critical issues at the heart of current archaeological research throughout the world. The study of the past takes place in the contemporary world and as such, interpretations of the past are often inherently political. The identification and subsequent control of cultural heritage sites will be of primary interest – focusing on specific sites located in or near our ports of call. By critically examining dynamics such as: the creation and perpetuation of a cultural identity (what is the message and who is broadcasting it); colonialism; repatriation; and the treatment of descent communities (both real and imagined), students will come to a more nuanced understanding of the complexities associated with the terms “archaeology” and “cultural heritage.” This course will cross-culturally compare: cultural constructs and the production of truth; cosmopolitanism and collecting; archaeology and looting; cultural heritage preservation techniques and policies; universal and national heritage ethics; museums and acquisition policies; national laws of ownership (including underwater rights); community based development; and cultural tourism. A reader comprised of select scholarly articles and case-studies will be created for this course with specific emphasis on heritage sites located in the regions we will be visiting.

Field Work

Country: Spain
Day: 4 - Thursday, 23 October

What better place to think about archaeological ethics than on archaeological sites and in archaeological museums used to engage both residents and visitors? On our last day in Barcelona, we will hear a presentation by Julia Beltran, the main curator of the MUHBA  - the City Museum of Barcelona.  Built directly in top of the original Roman colony of Barcino students will travel back in time over two thousand years via an elevator that takes them 15 feet under the current surface of the modern city to view excavations that unearthed sites and features illustrating everyday aspect of Roman life. The MUHBA will be followed by a visit to the Museum of Archaeology of Catalonia (MAC) - a national museum with exhibits ranging from prehistoric to medieval times – from South Africa to Rome and Greece - where students can view how different cultures and time periods are portrayed.  The trip ends with a tour of the Gavà Mine Archaeological Park.  This unique interactive park – which opened to the public in 2007 – goes back 6,000 years to the time when Neolithic peoples quarried a large hill just outside Barcelona searching for vericite, a pale green turquois-like stone that was highly valued throughout the ancient world.  The Gavà Mine museum is a well-designed, interactive archaeological site that provides a model for students to see how ethical ecotoursim can help fund necessary, ongoing archaeological research in the form of “edutainment.” Following this experience, you will write a research paper comparing and contrasting three archaeological sites, archaeological museum collections, and/or ancient buildings (archaeological features) from three different ports visited during the voyage.