Anthropology Magazine
Essay / Standpoints

From the Margins to the Mainstream: Black and Indigenous Futures in Archaeology

Inspired by recent Black Lives Matter protests, a new webinar series explores how contemporary activism around social justice and civil rights is transforming the discipline of archaeology.

Black and Indigenous Futures in Archaeology

Backbone Campaign/Flickr

In mid-2020, widespread protests against police violence and anti-Black racism swept the globe. In the wake of these protests, many people looked to build new momentum in the fight for civil rights and social justice.

The field of archaeology has its own history to confront. Racism, elitism, and colonialism suffuse the discipline and its practices. Although some scholars have long been working to unearth these stories and envision a new future for the field, much work remains to be done.

To advance critical conversations about archaeology, a coalition of organizations created a nine-part webinar series. These public dialogues—intended for both scholars and the larger public—were among academics, artists, and community members. The topics traveled from problematic monuments, to repatriation, to new forms of storytelling, to questions about the future of Indigenous and Black archaeologies. Pushing and pulling this conversation were issues of human rights, restorative justice, heritage stewardship, and systems of knowledge.

The 2020–2021 webinar series was organized by the leadership of the Society of Black Archaeologists (Justin Dunnavant and Ayana Flewellen),  Indigenous Archaeology Collective (Sara Gonzalez and Ora Marek-Martinez), Cornell Institute of Archaeology and Material Studies (Adam T. Smith),  Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research (Danilyn Rutherford), and SAPIENS (Chip Colwell). Additional material support came from seven university-based archaeology centers and a museum.

Explore the webinar series below and watch the recorded panels. Join the conversation and keep it moving.


As the Statues Fall: A Conversation About Monuments and the Power of Memory


Reclaiming the Ancestors: Indigenous and Black Perspectives on Repatriation, Human Rights, and Justice


An Archaeology of Redress and Restorative Justice


Black and Indigenous Storytelling as Counter-History


“For the Welfare of the Whole People”: Heritage Stewardship in Indigenous and Black Communities 


Unsettling the Past: Radically Reimagining Archaeological Knowledge


Fugitive Archaeological Spaces


The Fire This Time: Black and Indigenous Ecologies


Black and Indigenous Futures


Archaeological Research Center, University of California, Santa Cruz

Archaeological Research Facility, University of California, Berkeley

Cornell Institute of Archaeology and Material Studies

Cotsen Institute of Archaeology

Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World

Museum of Anthropological Archaeology, University of Michigan

Robert S. Peabody Institute of Archaeology

Stanford Archaeology Center

The Andrew Fiske Memorial Center for Archaeological Research, University of Massachusetts, Boston

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