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Archaeology as a View into Two Worlds- Scholar Introduction Kaitlin Scharra

Archaeology as a View into Two Worlds- Scholar Introduction Kaitlin Scharra

As a MA student of Anthropology at Wayne State University, I have been granted a real look inside post-industrial politics of heritage in Detroit.  People look at Detroit as an example of a great American city gone wrong, and that has put a large cultural eye on the area. A focus on the city’s identity and its history has been observed through the increase of area based entrepreneurship.  Many craft breweries and retail shops around the city base their business strategies in the emotions of Detroit’s culture and history (i.e. Atwater Brewery, Pure Detroit).  I am looking to encourage this investment in cultural heritage by utilizing and expanding public archaeology within the city.  In past work with Campus Archaeology at Michigan State University and fieldwork in Lincoln, UK; I have seen the positive impact public archaeology has given to community members.


(C) Wayne State University- Flickr


Currently, I have been working on a project titled Unearthing Detroit through Wayne State University.  This is a collections-based research project that is reanalyzing the salvage archaeology completed during the construction of some of the most iconic buildings in the city. These include the iconic Renaissance Center and Michigan Central Station.  By utilizing digital and public platforms, I am looking to develop efficient and engaging models for taking the knowledge the team learns in the lab to the general public.  I want to share the narratives the collection has resurfaced with the community.  With an area so interested in the cultural history, tangible artifacts can a new prespective to cultural history and investment.  Furthermore, this case study of Detroit can be applied to not only other US cities, but also post-industrial cities internationally.  


You can find more about the Unearthing Detroit project here or by following us on twitter and facebook.


In furthering this research into digital humanities outreach through HASTAC, I would like to explore the most effective ways for engaging the public while crossing that translational boundary between academia and the general knowledge groups. I am looking to apply this research into heritage marketing and dissemination strategies.  Archaeology, which is a border discipline of both science and the humanities, offers an excellent look at relevancy of strategies across many fields. Possible avenues include creating an app that allows visitors and community members to explore the city’s history on their own terms through geotagged audio or visual narratives, and extending our digital collection.


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