, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 66–87 | Cite as

Archaeology as State Heritage Crime



North American archaeology is evaluated in light of state and heritage crime theory. When analyzed with preexisting typologies, the practice is shown to meet the threshold for state-sanctioned heritage crime. This study also demonstrates how current models of heritage crime do not adequately account for (1) the pivotal role states and state-sanctioned heritage experts play in committing heritage crime and (2) the implications of heritage crime for living descendant communities, not just physical artifacts and buildings. Typically thought of as crime against the state, seeing a state heritage regime as organized heritage crime opens the door to a host of theoretical and practical possibilities, including legal remedies for affected communities. Despite these opportunities, major impediments to meaningful change exist.

Key Words

North American archaeology Cultural resource management State crime Heritage crime Heritocide 


L’archéologie nord-américaine est évaluée à la lumière de la théorie des crimes contre l’État et le patrimoine. Lorsqu’elle est analysée à l’aide de typologies préexistantes, la pratique semble respecter le seuil en vigueur pour les crimes contre le patrimoine sanctionnés par l’État. La présente étude démontre aussi comment les modèles actuels d’examen des crimes contre le patrimoine ne tiennent pas adéquatement compte (1) du rôle central que jouent les États et les experts en patrimoine sanctionnés par l’État en commettant des crimes contre le patrimoine; et (2) des implications que les crimes contre le patrimoine ont sur les communautés parentes vivantes et pas seulement sur les artefacts et bâtiments physiques. Généralement considérés comme des crimes contre l’État, le fait d’associer un régime d’État commettant des crimes contre le patrimoine à un réseau de crimes organisés ouvre la voie à une gamme de possibilités théoriques et pratiques, dont l’accès des communautés touchées à des recours en justice. Plusieurs obstacles d’envergure au changement existent pourtant malgré ces possibilités.


La arqueología norteamericana se evalúa a la luz de la teoría del estado y del crimen contra el patrimonio. Cuando se analizan con las tipologías preexistentes, se muestra que la práctica satisface el umbral del crimen contra el patrimonio sancionado por el estado. El presente estudio demuestra también cómo los modelos actuales de crimen contra el patrimonio no explican de manera adecuada (1) el papel crucial que los estados y los expertos en patrimonio sancionados por el estado desempeñan en la comisión de crímenes contra el patrimonio y (2) las implicaciones de los crímenes contra el patrimonio para las comunidades de descendientes vivos, no sólo de artefactos físicos y edificios. Visto normalmente como un crimen contra el estado, ver un régimen del patrimonio estatal como un crimen organizado contra el patrimonio abre la puerta a un montón de posibilidades teóricas y prácticas, incluidos remedios legales para las comunidades afectadas. A pesar de estas oportunidades, existen impedimentos de importancia para un cambio significativo.


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Copyright information

© World Archaeological Congress 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Critical Heritage and TourismGabriola IslandCanada
  2. 2.Department of AnthropologyVancouver Island UniversityNanaimoCanada

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