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Cultural Resource Management and International Heritage Studies

Cultural Resource Management

Cultural Resource Management (CRM), basically defined, is the process by which archaeological sites, buildings, and properties of significance are identified, evaluated for National and State Register eligibility, and preserved or mitigated. The practice of CRM is much more complex than this definition suggests.  CRM involves understanding the details and nuances of state and federal laws, creation of concise proposals and innovative research designs, application of cost-effective field methodologies to a variety of projects, the use of creative analytical methods to extract data from sites, involvement of community members and descendant groups in interpretation and resource management, and the advancement of knowledge about the past.  At Binghamton, archaeologists recognize that students interested in a CRM career benefit greatly from an in-depth academic experience that stresses an anthropological perspective.  Theoretical, methodological, and practical training are well-integrated components of professional preparation for CRM careers.

The Public Archaeology Facility (PAF) provides opportunities for this experiential learning. PAF offers supervised field positions to qualified applicants, over 2800 prehistoric and historic site collections for class projects, Masters and Doctoral degree research, and funded research assistantships to assist with the pursuit of academic degrees.  Department faculty provide students with diverse exposure to the skills needed in CRM professions, including theoretical seminars, CRM policy and practice, historical archaeology, North American area studies, material culture practica, and community archaeology.

Nina M. Versaggi, director of PAF and co-instructor of the department's Heritage Resource Management course, specializes in the Northeastern U.S.  She is active in Native American consultations and collaborations, research and publication on hunter-gatherer sites within riverine settings, and public archaeology within local communities in the Southern Tier of New York and Northern Tier of Pennsylvania. In the Southwest U.S., Ruth Van Dyke is involved in collaborative research with Chaco Culture National Historical Park, Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, and the Navajo Nation Archaeology Department.  As part of recent collaborations with colleagues, Randall McGuire worked to have the site of the Ludlow Massacre in Colorado designated as a U.S. National Historic Monument in 2010.  He also advises students working on historical archaeology projects throughout the U.S.  Siobhan Hart has employed a community-based approach to heritage management outside of a CRM framework.  Her recent research involves decolonizing archaeology by engaging local and non-local stakeholders in voluntary collaborations to develop research questions, methods, interpretations, and preservation and stewardship plans which reflect both Western scientific and community epistemologies.

International Heritage Studies

Concerns with heritage have become an issue in many parts of the world, mainly because of explosive urbanization that destroys large numbers of sites. Industrialization and infrastructure projects such as dam building have posed a major threat to the survival of international heritage sites of significance. Wars and political unrest, religious zeal, as well as economic hardships also contribute to the looting and destruction of archaeological monuments and sites.

Among our faculty, Reinhard Bernbeck traces the motivations for the destruction of antiquities and archaeological sites in Afghanistan.  Randall McGuire has conducted comparative research on nationalism and heritage in the United States and Mexico.  He is currently working with Mexican colleagues to develop the site of Cerro de Trincheras in Sonora, as a Monumento Nacional de Mexico.  Susan Pollock has examined the damage done to the Iraq Museum in the wake of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion and considers the politics of the uses of the past by Iraqi governments and American media. Sébastien Lacombe is actively engaged in collaborative research with CRM and heritage management projects in Southwestern France, particularly helping to reconcile the often conflicting scientific potential and public/financial interests in fragile Paleolithic decorated caves.

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Last Updated: 10/10/12