Legacies of Colonialism in Southeast Asian Archaeology and How to Move Forward

Department of Anthropology, University of Nevada, U.S.A.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives in ‘Western’ academia and other colonial professional spheres have become hot topics of interest in the past few years. However, perspectives on what these DEI initiatives look like may differ from scholar to scholar. This range of approaches to DEI initiatives can be attributed to multiple factors, including a lack of uniform guidelines on how to conduct ethically sound research, multiple approaches to ensuring equity between scholars, various levels of acknowledgments of the power structure created by the legacy of colonialism, and complacency with the status quo of parachute science practices. This, in turn, has created systems that disproportionately benefit scientists from powerful nations and diminish the contributions of those from colonized nations. This study identifies a problematic power structure in publication trends based on archaeological research based in Southeast Asia. To understand the dynamics of international collaborations in this region, a bibliometric study surveying a total of 329 journal articles across 10 archaeological journals from 2012–2022 was conducted. Preliminary results from summary statistics indicate that 77.5% of first authors were foreign researchers. Among the nations in which these foreign researchers are based, Australia leads in terms of publications on Southeast Asian archaeology, followed by the U.S. (n=59) and France (n=29). Success in academia is most often measured by the number of publications scholars have produced and the citation impact of the publishing journals. These results should be used for researchers to begin reflecting on how we can increase the visibility of our local colleagues, specifically in higher impact journals as a first step toward a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive research community.