A New Discourse Regarding Heritage and Climate Change

The archaeological record enshrines millennia of human experience living on earth, while climate change presents a wide range of challenges to coupled natural and human systems extending into the future. But, by and large, heritage and climate are not yet linked in research or policy. In a recently published paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Marcy Rockman (CfAS, University of Maryland, and Lifting Rocks LLC) argues that this disconnect is a byproduct of legislative history, received understandings of heritage and climate, and developments in U.S. federal agencies. These factors have combined to produce a view of heritage as a fundamentally conservative, non-renewable source of support for identity and tradition. In its place, Rockman argues for a view of heritage that emphasizes the knowledge and experience it integrates, leading to a role for archaeological research in supporting and directing adaptive social and political change.

The arguments in Rockman’s paper resonate strongly with the mission of CfAS to better utilize archaeological evidence in addressing contemporary issues in society and the environment. They are also central to our forthcoming design workshop on urban adaptation to environmental change, to which applications are now being accepted.

Check out the paper (unfortunately, there is a paywall), and the request for information!

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