Breaking apart the chairs

The chairs at the Preserving the Past Together workshop were literally locked together. To create small groups for discussion participants had to work together to pull apart the chairs. Dr. Gonzalez made an interesting comment about how the chairs represent archaeology’s structural impediments to collaboration and it had me thinking about that metaphor more deeply. If individuals want to work together but the system does not allow that to be easily implemented, how do we break apart the “chairs” toward a more collaborative archaeology?

The questions raised by the audience also mirrored this concern. How do we find the time, personnel, and funding to build meaningful collaborations? In the lowest bidding environment, the cheapest bid wins. How can archaeologists demonstrate that working with tribes is an asset to the project and not a hindrance?

Dr. Gonzalez mentioned that working with tribes from the outset of CRM projects saves money. Long term planning and relationship building seems to be a useful strategy for saving money and for demonstrating the worthiness of collaboration. I think that in these beginning stages of collaboration it will take many individuals putting in overtime, going above and beyond their bids, and being creative about how to reach out to tribes. We may have to swim against the current until the tide changes. Breaking apart the chairs, breaking apart structural impediments, and breaking apart attitudes will be a long battle, but a battle worth fighting.

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