University of Illinois at Chicago
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The micropolitics of public archaeology: Working with the ejido in Michoacán, Mexico

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-23, 16:18 authored by Anna S Cohen, Rodrigo Solinis-Casparius
Approximately 90% of Mexican archaeological sites are on communal ejido lands and yet the Mexican Constitution stipulates that all cultural heritage is the property of the federal government. Considering this disconnect between federal and local practices, how can archaeologists work with ejido communities to help preserve cultural patrimony? This article explores the micropolitics associated with archaeological fieldwork on communal ejido lands in Western Mexico. We show how long-standing practices based on local histories, community political theater, and interpersonal relations shape fieldwork and cultural conservation initiatives in important and unintended ways. In our study near the site of Angamuco, Michoacán, we draw upon ethnographic and archival research and outreach projects over five field seasons, and address the tensions that emerge when informal micropolitical and formal top–down sociopolitical practices interface. We show how aspects of a policy science approach are appropriate for long-term community-supported archaeology and cultural heritage management.



Cohen, A. S.Solinis-Casparius, R. (2017). The micropolitics of public archaeology: Working with the ejido in Michoacán, Mexico. Journal of Social Archaeology, 17(3), 326-348.


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