Beyond the Property Paradigm

Fragments for an Anarchist Approach to Archaeological Heritage


  • David Pacifico University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee



Community Archaeology, Ethnography of Archaeology, Archaeological Heritage


Popular, legal, and academic relationships to archaeology are founded upon a property-based model of heritage which threatens to produce unsustainable consequences for heritage sites and stakeholders. The interrelations between the material culture of heritage, the scientific practice of archaeology, and the political economies of tourism and education are explored here in order to analyze the consequences of heritage development. In contrast to a property model of heritage, an ‘anarchistic’ model is proposed for handling heritage. Such a model implies that no individual or collectivity can own archaeological sites, information about those sites, or the material resources generated by tourism or research at heritage sites. Finally, sincere questions are raised about the ethics of intellectual property, heritage management, and the tourism and academic industries within both traditional and ‘anarchist’ models live.


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Author Biography

David Pacifico, University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee

David Pacifico is assistant professor of art history and the director of the Emile H. Mathis Art Gallery and UWM Art Collection at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee. He directs the Milwaukee Community Archaeology Project and the Casma Hinterland Archaeological Project. Address for correspondence: University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee. Department of Art History, Mitchell Hall 151. 3203 North Downer Avenue, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53211, USA.


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How to Cite

Pacifico, D. (2019). Beyond the Property Paradigm: Fragments for an Anarchist Approach to Archaeological Heritage. Journal of Contemporary Archaeology, 5(2), 283–302.



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