Cobb H, Giles M & Jones S (2011) Partnership in the park: exploring the past, inspiring the future in inner-city Manchester. The Archaeologist, 82, p. 2 pages. http://www.archaeologists.net/sites/default/files/ta82.pdf
Community archaeology is increasingly popular and it is often viewed as a straightforward endeavour: local people come together, often with the involvement of heritage professionals, to survey, dig and generally examine the archaeology of a site or area. Seemingly it ‘does what it says on the tin’. In reality, community archaeology is incredibly complicated (see Marshall 2009; Smith and Waterton 2009). Bottom-up projects, driven by local community groups, inevitably need expert help and the support of the heritage profession throughout the process. Thus a hierarchy of knowledge is created, complicating the community’s ownership and control over the project and their local heritage. Meanwhile top-down projects, driven by professional archaeologists, often engage with and enlist community groups for their work, but such a process can be equally alienating for the communities. Ultimately, community archaeology is always going to be an intervention into an existing social context where people are already actively producing and negotiating identities and where the past is plural and contested; constantly being remade, debated and negotiated (Greer et al 2002; Isherwood 2011; Jones 2012).
Aware of such tensions and possibilities, the Whitworth Park Community Archaeology and History Project set out to develop another approach, bringing together common interests amongst a range of parties with a fundamental recognition that memories and identites are produced and negotiated through the act of community archaeology.
Community archaeology, public parks, identity, memory
The Archaeologist: Volume 82