Who steers the canoe? Community-led research across many time scales in Oceania
This talk will touch on three field projects in the Pacific Islands and Australia, two in Vanuatu and one in Tasmania. The projects cover the archaeology of 19th century missionaries in Tanna and Erromango, Polynesian settlement in Futuna and Aniwa, and a hotel from Tasmania’s colonial frontier. I will respond to the concepts of connectivity and temporality in two ways: one in thinking through the differing time-scales on which archaeological materials resonate with local communities, and second through an examination of the temporalities through which projects evolve. When working with communities in remote and rural areas, what kind of time should archaeologists invest in allowing local people to shape the emergence of the research process? How do people engage with material from the more recent and deeper pasts? What role as archaeologists do we play as interpreters of familiar and less-familiar objects?
James Flexner is senior lecturer in historical archaeology and heritage at the University of Sydney. His interests range broadly across landscape archaeology, the Pacific region, and archaeologies of colonialism. James is currently directing field projects in Vanuatu, Tasmania, and Queensland.