Ethics of archaeological practices in northwest Thailand
Paper short abstract:
A major challenge in the globalized world for professional practice is the relationship between archaeologists and capitalism, specifically, the marketing of cultural heritage as archaeological sites, objects and research become valuable commodities for tourism.
Paper long abstract:
While archaeological sites can serve as tourist attractions, research is valued for the production of relevant knowledge, generally concerning cultural identities and historical meanings. Archaeology has become a part of economic development, and archaeologists are working increasingly with the business sector on heritage management in their research areas. Contemporary archaeologists can no longer focus only on scientific research, they must also work with different interest groups whose use of archaeology may have positive and negative consequences. Archaeologists need to be aware of their ethical and political roles when archaeology is used for economic development and other public policy goals at the local, national and international levels. In recent years the ethical issues involved in working with multiple communities or multi-ethnic groups have become important concerns for archaeologists globally. Thai archaeologists generally have not focused on these issues, although there are many minority ethnic groups in Thailand, especially near the borders with neighboring countries. The challenge now is to integrate professional ethics and multiple communities' views in the heritage management. This paper will examine how archaeologists negotiate their ethical responsibilities in working with the multiple communities and assist the local control of heritage tourism. Archaeological, anthropological and historical evidences in Mae Hong Son province, a borderland between Thailand and Myanmar will be examined and discussed.
Local/global histories: the challenge of local museums