Friday, September 19, 2014

Returning to Ecuador!

Tomorrow I will travel to Ecuador for the first time since I completed my dissertation research in 2010. I have been invited by the Region 4 office of the Instituto Nacional de Patrimonio Cultural (INPC) to present a 4-day workshop entitled "Arqueología como un Recurso Comunitario" in Portoviejo. Participants in this workshop are community guides and university students from the region. 

The workshop will begin with a discussion of the goals and methods of archaeology as a discipline, and general information about the prehispanic cultures on the coast. The meat of the workshop will be participant-driven, as we discuss Ecuadorian patrimony laws, the value of protecting archaeological materials within communities, and develop plans that can be deployed within each community to continue these discussion and help think about archaeology among the other resources that communities have, like land, water, and artistic talent. While the community guides come from places that have some degree of tourist infrastructure, the emphasis of this workshop is not necessarily tourism. We will discuss the potential of archaeology for economic development more broadly, but also discuss other uses of archaeology, including but not limited to community identity and history.

This is the first time that I'm leading a workshop of this nature, so I am both very excited and very nervous. I'm building on educational material and formats that I've used in my job, but expanding on them and adapting them to the Ecuadorian context. I just hope the participants are up for some knowledge co-creation!

The trip won't just be the workshop, though. I'm taking advantage of the opportunity of being in the country to visit with a dear friend, check out an archaeological site that's been recently opened to the public, visit a fellow archaeologist's lab to rummage through more ceramics, and speak with the master's program in neotropical archaeology at ESPOL in Guayaquil.

Competing with the workshop for the feature of the trip will be my return to Dos Mangas. I'm looking forward to presenting the final analysis from my dissertation project, seeing old friends, and beginning discussions for a new, collaborative research program with the community.

Dos Mangas, one of the first photos I took back in 2006. I can only imagine what it will look like today!

To say I'm excited doesn't quite cover it. I'll try to update on my Ecuadorian adventures along the way, so check back. Hopefully this marks the start of a significant re-engagement with Ecuador, and none-too-soon!