Decision-making and the Practice of Community Archaeology in southern Belize


Claire Novotny

Document Type


Publication Date

January 2016


In the Maya region, sometimes communities are not consulted about access to archaeological sites, research programs, or the management of local heritage once research is completed. Consequently, one source of inequality between archaeologists and local communities is access to decision-making as a form of cultural capital. By positioning ourselves as primary decision-makers, archaeologists can inhibit access to knowledge about the past. The Aguacate Community Archaeology Project, conducted in southern Belize, addressed unequal decision-making processes by including community members in the implementation of archaeological excavations at the site of Kaq’ru’ Ha’ and in planning for the storage of artifacts and dissemination of knowledge to villagers through a heritage center. This paper explores the complex outcomes of altered decision-making; a balanced relationship between archaeologists and Aguacate as a whole may also have reinforced latent inequalities between factions in the village. A critical evaluation of the practice of community archaeology furthers the goal of fostering social change by increasing who has access to archaeological knowledge.


81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology