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Diaspora, Class Inequalities, and Community Collaboration: Making Archaeology Relevant in the Modern World

Thursday, January 24, 2013
12:00 AM
2009 Ruthven

The last two decades have witnessed archaeology’s increasing concern about its position and relevance in the modern world. This dilemma was the catalyst for the widespread practice of public outreach and education. To date the impact of public archaeology, although positive, has not been as great as one would have wished. In light of this, the discipline is currently undergoing another transformation. Recent developments demonstrate the potential for the knowledge produced through archaeological inquiries to be part of the discourse concerning contemporary social issues and public policy. To do so, archaeologists must collaborate with communities where their work will have a direct impact. Moreover, and perhaps more importantly, our outreach and research agendas need to be theoretically informed by applied anthropology. The idea that archaeology needs to move beyond the ideology of stewardship and toward a more active environment structures Dr. Brighton’s presentation discussing the applied archaeology of the Irish Diaspora in the United States and his attempts at a community collaborative research program.


Stephen A. Brighton is an Associate Professor of Anthropology and Archaeology at the University of Maryland. He is author of the 2009 book Historical Archaeology of the Irish Diaspora: A Transnational Approach and several articles on various aspects of the material culture of diasporic and immigrant groups, applied archaeology and community collaboration, as well as current issues of social justice and inequalities in American immigration policies. His research interests are grounded in critical materialist and applied anthropology theories that structure the pursuit of locating and confronting the origins of today’s societal injustices. Dr. Brighton’s main focus is the material evidence reflecting the impact of racialization and alienation on diasporic groups and transnational identities in the historic and contemporary past. Dr. Brighton works mainly on the Irish Diaspora and has run annual field schools associated with Irish immigrant laborers in their families in Maryland and currently in Virginia.

This talk sponsored by The University of Michigan’s Institute for Humanities in association with the opening of the exhibit “State of Exception”


Dr. Stephen A. Brighton, University of Maryland - Department of Anthropology