Community-Engaged Research

Today, the small mining community of Bucium, Romania, is threatened by large-scale commercial gold mining operations. This collaborative project links the University of Michigan Museum of Anthropological Archaeology (Colin Quinn) with Bucium community members and organizations (Horia Ciugudean, Viorel David, Asociatia Sperante sub Detunate, andAsociatia Culturala “Ovidiu Barlea”) to use public scholarship to push back against these destructive forces. The project builds on the missions and goals of community partners, and emphasizes heritage revitalization efforts that raise both local and international awareness of the human costs of large-scale mining operations.

In threatened communities, the use of traditional everyday objects can be a way of referencing the past, shared identities, and create a sense of community and belonging. In mining villages in Romania, simple wooden tools, often passed down for generations, are an important medium through which stories and histories are experienced. However, modern globalization and corporate mining operations have facilitated a breakdown of traditional mining techniques, knowledge, and practice – often the very everyday activities people in Bucium have used to define themselves.

Heritage revitalization efforts not only serve to preserve past lifeways, but also as a means for communities to (re)define themselves and find new ways of creating shared identities and advocate for their own future. Our research project is motivated by one major research question: How can archaeologically oriented and community-engaged cultural heritage revitalization efforts influence awareness and ultimately public policy about key social advocacy issues?