Minding the gap: Attempts at community archaeology and local counter-narratives at an archaeological site in Turkey

Baltali Tirpan S.

JOURNAL OF SOCIAL ARCHAEOLOGY, 2022 (Journal Indexed in SSCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.1177/14696053221102911
  • Keywords: Archaeological ethnography, community archaeologies, local communities, subjectivity, heritage, decolonizing counter-narratives, Kerkenes, Turkey, ETHNOGRAPHY, POWER


Community archaeologies should emerge from an awareness of the ways in which archaeological praxis is embedded with multiple pasts, subjectivities, materialities, and national and transnational histories. This longitudinal archaeological ethnography explores the lived experiences, perceptions of the past, and relationship to archaeology and archaeologists amongst villagers residing near the Kerkenes site in Turkey after attempts by the project to develop heritage awareness, a sustainable local economy, and collaborative management of the site within the community. However well-intentioned, considerable challenges to closing the gap in understanding between archaeologists and locals can arise when the efforts of archaeologists become entangled in larger socio-political frameworks beyond their control. Villagers have experienced being dehumanized as Muslim migrant workers in Europe and were Islamic-based nationalist supporters of the conservative Erdogan regime. The archaeologists' heritage-making practices inadvertently triggered symbolic associations of the project with the colonial endeavor. Locals produced counter-narratives about the site as a decolonizing response.