World Archaeological Congress

Session 4.1F: Consumers, producers, or interactive partners? Toward multivocality in participatory archaeology


“Participatory culture” is a term used in contrast to consumer culture. It refers to a culture in which individuals and the public do not act only as consumers, but also as contributors or producers. Most public archaeology perceives non-professionals as consumers, with many forms of successful interpretive schemes, but this session examines the range of ways the wider population can participate in the creation of new understanding about the past. Participatory culture models can be applied to the many ways that archaeologists are increasingly using collaborative approaches in working with the public. Successful programs empower and motivate lay persons to more active involvement in not only archaeological fieldwork but also interpretation/dissemination processes. This conceptual shift allows analyses of public participation in the production of “new” knowledge. The session expands the discussions from previous conferences (2011-2012 symposia, Society for Historical Archaeology) of archaeologist/lay person collaborative relationships within a participatory culture model. Topics for consideration include (1) How non-academics and lay persons create, use, and react to this new knowledge; (2) How, in these variable relationships, professional and lay researchers interact; (3) What sorts of pasts are being created; and (4) How these interpretations complement or compete with traditional archaeological knowledge claims.…