Experts in multiple disciplines consider best practices for studies undertaken with Indigenous communities
Tucson, Ariz. (December 27, 2018)—John Welch gets in the last word in the just-released, multidisciplinary book dedicated to establishing balanced relationships among researchers and the Indigenous hosts for academic, governmental, and commercial studies. Dr. Welch directs Archaeology Southwest’s Landscape and Site Preservation Program.
Just in time for the giving season, Oregon State University Press has published Giving Back: Research and Reciprocity in Indigenous Settings, a suite of sophisticated case studies that examine how practitioners ranging from anthropologists to zoologists negotiate ways to share the benefits of research with Indigenous people and communities.
Welch’s chapter, which concludes the volume, argues that giving back is just the beginning:
“One thing is for sure: other than as a basic precondition for academic/community engagements, good researcher intentions are insufficient. The myriad challenges faced by the world’s most structurally and historically disadvantaged communities and nations are not likely to be effectively addressed by open hearts or modest gifts. Institutional and power dynamics embedded in colonial governmental and academic institutions operate to reify divides separating Indigenous people from outsiders in general and from Western academic researchers in particular.
“The burdens—legal, ethical, and practical—are on academic researchers to either use our knowledge, perspectives, capacities, and privileges to address these inequities and decrease these divides or face the truth of deriving personal and professional benefits from participation in institutions that perpetuate research at the expense of Indigenous peoples and territories. Most Indigenous peoples and communities need much, much more than spin-off research benefits. Despite the fine efforts represented in this book and elsewhere, we have barely begun the essential tasks of scoping out what can and should be done to create local benefits from and through our research—to go beyond giving back.”
ABOUT ARCHAEOLOGY SOUTHWEST
Archaeology Southwest is a private 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Tucson, Arizona, that explores and protects the places of our past across the American Southwest and Mexican Northwest. For three decades, Archaeology Southwest has fostered meaningful connections to the past and respectfully safeguarded its irreplaceable resources. Learn more at archaeologysouthwest.org.