Decolonizing Indigenous Histories

Exploring Prehistoric/Colonial Transitions in Archaeology

Maxine Oland (Editor), Siobhan M. Hart (Editor), Liam Frink (Editor)
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Decolonizing Indigenous Histories makes a vital contribution to the decolonization of archaeology by recasting colonialism within long-term indigenous histories. Showcasing case studies from Africa, Australia, Mesoamerica, and North and South America, this edited volume highlights the work of archaeologists who study indigenous peoples and histories at multiple scales.

The contributors explore how the inclusion of indigenous histories, and collaboration with contemporary communities and scholars across the subfields of anthropology, can reframe archaeologies of colonialism. The cross-cultural case studies employ a broad range of methodological strategies—archaeology, ethnohistory, archival research, oral histories, and descendant perspectives—to better appreciate processes of colonialism. The authors argue that these more complicated histories of colonialism contribute not only to understandings of past contexts but also to contemporary social justice projects.

In each chapter, authors move beyond an academic artifice of “prehistoric” and “colonial” and instead focus on longer sequences of indigenous histories to better understand colonial contexts. Throughout, each author explores and clarifies the complexities of indigenous daily practices that shape, and are shaped by, long-term indigenous and local histories by employing an array of theoretical tools, including theories of practice, agency, materiality, and temporality.

Included are larger integrative chapters by Kent Lightfoot and Patricia Rubertone, foremost North American colonialism scholars who argue that an expanded global perspective is essential to understanding processes of indigenous-colonial interactions and transitions.
“This book amply illustrates archaeology’s vital role in the decolonization of Indigenous pasts and will be required reading for students of postcolonial studies, modern historical archaeology, and Indigenous archaeology.”—Cambridge Archaeological Journal
“The essays in this collection make major contributions to the archaeology of colonialism, the interpretation of the colonial experience, and the decolonizing of anthropology.”—Choice Magazine

In short, this is an excellent book, whose chapters and case studies add up to a coherent argument, which the editors themselves sum up most succinctly in their claim that this book is about 'decolonizing archaeology,' both conceptually and practically. Even if fully realizing this goal will require more time and a sustained effort, it seems to me that this book has nevertheless managed to set a first and most significant step towards that goal, and that it leads the way towards decolonizing both academic discourse and archaeological and heritage practices of European colonial situations. Through its comparative dimension, this book also reaches out beyond studies of European colonial- ism and marks a notably new step in the archaeology of colonialism in general."—American Antiquity

“The theoretical exploration offers a fine-grained view of history that moves beyond written texts for understanding and complicates our view of Native cultures’ responses to colonial incursions.”—Western American Literature Book Reviews

“These integrative essays emphasize the usefulness of global perspectives in understanding complex processes of cultural interaction and transformation over time, while also suggesting that archaeology can (and should) contribute to contemporary efforts toward social justice.”—Collaborative Anthropologies
Decolonizing Indigenous Histories
320 Pages 6 x 9
Published: December 2020Paperback ISBN: 9780816542574
Published: December 2012Ebook ISBN: 9780816599356

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