Public archaeology was first mentioned as a term in 1972. Since then, theories and practices in the discipline have evolved into something more extensive, profound and deeper. It is extensive in the sense that it has become a subfield in archaeology and its own academic discourse since the 1990s, and profound because it has been effective in affecting behavioural change and given a voice to marginalised groups and communities. In the twenty-first century, Public Archaeology is now a deeper practice, as most practitioners seek social justice and reform through the collaboration and knowledge co-production in archaeological research. In Southeast Asia, Public Archaeology was generally practiced within the framework of cultural heritage management. Interest and efforts to rescue and protect cultural sites of cultural significance stemmed from the popularity of cultural heritage tourism. In recent years, archaeologists working in Southeast Asia have started to actively participate in uplifting the socioeconomic status and well-being of communities close to archaeological sites. Public Archaeology practiced as advocacy is an emerging field in Southeast Asia and we must gather and document the works being done related to this.
This session aims to gather public archaeologists who push for political action and advocacy with the archaeological work that they do. Beyond local exhibits, and hiring local staff during fieldwork, what exactly does it mean to undertake community engagement? Beyond the presentation of archaeological data, how is it interpreted for the public audience? How is the ‘community’ involved in the interpretation of this data or what is their role in amplifying the significance of the archaeological data? How does this contribute to the daily lives of the community that archaeologists work with? We encourage fellow archaeologists working in Southeast Asia to share their experiences, methods, and reflections behind the praxis that exhibit political action and advocacy in their archaeological work.