Session Abstracts

Archaeological Knowledge Production in the Age of ZOOM

Chair: Chris Kerns

Community-Based Archaeology during COVID-19: An Online Approach with Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation and Mississauga Nation

Steven Dorland, University of Toronto-Mississauga, Mississauga, ON

Jonathan Ferrier, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS

Jordan Jamieson, Mississaugas of Credit First Nation

Gabriella deHaas, Mississaugas of Alderville First Nation

David G. Smith, University of Toronto Mississauga, Mississauga, ON

Veronica King-Jamieson, Mississaugas of Credit First Nation

Success of community-based projects is often based on creating a flexible framework, adaptable to changing situations. In this presentation, we discuss the experiences of implementing a community-based project during the COVID-19 pandemic. This project is grounded in a partnership with University of Toronto Mississauga, Dalhousie University, and Mississauga Nation, which consists of six communities across Mississauga Nation (Southern Ontario). University of Toronto Mississauga is situated on the traditional treaty territory of Mississaugas of Credit who are also the official host for the community-based youth project. This project has two primary goals. First, we are braiding together Indigenous knowledge and science to learn about learning and material culture. Second, we are developing capacity building for youth and young adults to build competency in archaeological training and transferable skills applicable to other professional and academic areas. Initially, we planned to hold a series of in-person workshops in July at Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. However, due to safety precautions related to COVID-19 social distancing practices, this project was adapted to a series of online ZOOM workshops in July and August. In this presentation, we share our experiences, bringing together several perspectives of faculty, community partners, and youth participants to provide an overall assessment of the project’s first year. Through the online platform, there were challenges that impacted the overall experience, such as visibility and communication issues during workshops. However, an online platform increased accessibility and allowed us to include youth and young adults from Mississaugas of Credit, Curve Lake, Mississaugas of Scugog Island, and Alderville. As part of this project, we have encouraged ongoing feedback and dialogue from participants to ensure the learning experience is enjoyable and meeting the needs and interests of community members and the broader communities involved.

Hearing Voices: Shaping New Narratives at the Museum of Ontario Archaeology

Heather Hatch and Rhonda Bathurst, Museum of Ontario Archaeology, London, ON

The Museum of Ontario Archaeology (MOA) stands at a challenging crossroads. The Covid-19 pandemic hit the MOA at the intersecting moment between launching a new Strategic Plan and developing a new Interpretive Plan to guide our public-facing narratives and programming. At the same time, the disciplines of Archaeology and Museology are struggling to adapt to the powerful social movements of 2020 and 2021 that demand that both disciplines acknowledge our power imbalances and reconcile our colonial past(s).

Our new Strategic vision charges us to tell ethical, inclusive, and relevant stories that will resonate with audiences and foster a better understanding of Ontario’s cultural heritage. Whereas our new Interpretive Plan shifts the focus of the museum’s narratives away from the fetishism of things on display to the relatable human stories embedded in those objects. This shift requires that we demonstrate that there is more than one way to interpret the past while challenging us to share our expertise without speaking over other voices. The COVID pandemic has inspired a wave of digital assets and new tools of communication. This paper discusses how the museum has been meeting these interpretive challenges through the adoption of new tools and revised ways of storytelling.

Archaeology and Virtual Reality: A Critical Appraisal of Google Expeditions

Jaime Simons, Department of History, Carleton University, Ottawa, ON

Google Expeditions is an immersive education app that allows viewers to explore the world through augmented and virtual reality. Virtual tours from around the globe are available through the app and allow for both individuals and groups to follow along on a tour or explore at their own pace. While the subject matter of the tours is extremely varied, there are a significant number of archaeology-focused tours, mostly of excavated or reconstructed archaeological sites. Most tours are created by members of the public for casual consumption. As such, most were not subject to academic standards or analysis, though some tours do come from museum professionals showcasing their own museums or historic sites. This research explores the theoretical implications of the virtualization of Canadian archaeological sites, both Indigenous and otherwise. It also addresses the appeal of the original versus the reproduction, how gaze and biases are captured within Google Expeditions, and how the virtualization of archaeological sites affects understandings of scale, impact, and context. Ownership regarding intellectual property (IP) protection will also be addressed, along with what it means to virtualize archaeological and cultural heritage sites on a Google-owned platform.

Combating Anti-science: The Role of Archaeology in the 21st Century 

Christopher Kerns, Timmins Martelle Heritage Consultants Inc., London, ON

In recent years there has been an increase in what may be termed anti-science movements which question the authority and validity of scientific disciplines. The current rise of the anti-science movement is only the most recent manifestation of a phenomenon entwined with the history of scientific inquiry. As a bridge between the physical sciences and social sciences, archaeology has had a unique relationship with anti-science and pseudo-science movements throughout its history. Consequently, the history of that relationship provides valuable insight into effective and ineffective methods of combating such movements. Such a history demonstrates the necessity for mechanisms of validating archaeological knowledge while simultaneously maintaining relevance to the public through accessible knowledge production. The history of the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site and the University of the Highlands and Islands provides an illustrative example of the struggle between scientific inquiry and anti-scientific/ pseudo-scientific movements.         

Archaeology: The Once and Future Discipline

Robert W. Park, Department of Anthropology, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON

Archaeology is a discipline concerned with the distant past, and most of its insights involve processes that operate over very long periods. Archaeology is also a very young discipline, so archaeology’s own tools are not useful in studying the discipline’s history, but instead they offer a way to explore its long-term future. Based on processes that are already in operation, it is possible to make inferences concerning the archaeological record as it will exist five centuries from now. Those inferences have relevance for how we should be preparing the archaeological record so that it remains readily accessible for the future.

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