Cultural Heritage Management and the Colonial Culture

Ian McNiven, Sean Connaughton

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In the wake of Columbus’ voyages of “discovery” of the Americas in the late fifteenth century, Europeans began aggressive colonial settlement of what became known as the New World regions of North and South America. Continuing European maritime explorations of the world in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries resulted in the establishment of colonies in Africa, Southern Asia, Australia, and Oceania. While the history of colonial impact in these various places differed in form and scale, in all cases it involved the European appropriation of Indigenous lands and seas. In settler-colonial contexts such as Australia and the USA, such appropriation frequently involved removal of Indigenous peoples from their lands, often through murder. Left behind were landscapes materially rich with cultural sites and places representing the cumulative products of millennia of complex and intimate cultural engagements by countless generations of Indigenous peoples. The ensuing history and fate of these cultural sites and places parallel in many respects the ways local Indigenous peoples were subsequently treated by colonial regimes. Equally important, such history entails not only colonial disassociation of Indigenous people from their cultural sites but also colonial appropriation of these sites by European colonizers in the name of science, heritage, and nation building. Reversing the colonial processes of disassociation and appropriation has been a challenging task for Indigenous communities seeking to regain control of their pasts and cultural sites within the broader context of redefining and attaining social, political, economic, and cultural autonomy within nation states (Atalay et al. 2014; Colwell-Chanthaphonh and Ferguson 2010; Nicholas and Andrews 1997; McNiven and Russell 2005; Smith and Wobst 2005; Liebmann and Rizvi 2008; Lydon and Rizvi 2010). The settler-colonial contexts of the USA, Canada, and Australia provide well-documented and instructive examples of these anticolonial dynamics.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Global Archaeology
EditorsClaire Smith
Place of PublicationCham Switzerland
Number of pages9
ISBN (Print)9783319517261
Publication statusPublished - 22 Sept 2018

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