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Dismantling the persistent structures of colonialism in archaeology and heritage management


‘Post-colonial’ can refer to the emergence of the modern, autonomous state of Canada, yet for Indigenous communities (nations within the federal state), the persistence of foundational colonial instruments (the Indian Act), make the experience of colonialism entirely present. In this context, the heritage assessment process as a part of land development places archaeology at the point of friction between the interests of private-sector industries and Indigenous nations. As a federated system, ownership of the past is vested in provincial governments, and the relationship between governments and Indigenous communities is often coercive, complicit and conflicted. Our current research involves Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars, and our examination of these practices indicates that it is essential that there is fulsome engagement by archaeologists as public intellectuals, a willingness to examine theoretical and epistemological underpinnings, and a collaborative approach to actively dismantling colonial structures that continue to impinge on archaeology and heritage management.

University of Chester, Chester, England