Public participation in archaeology has increased over the last decade with the rise in community-orientated projects. This has seen many individuals and community groups making the transition from interested audiences to active participants. Community archaeology tends to operate separately to research or commercial undertakings, and has only recently has started to receive attention and acceptance from the wider discipline. For the most part, the demographic of participants in these community projects frequently mirror the demographic of the existing archaeological community: white, educated, advantaged and able-bodied (though there are some exceptions to this observation).
If archaeology is to rise to the challenge, set down by the National Planning Policy Framework, of a further increase in public participation and engagement, and establish demonstrable public benefits of its activities, particularly within the commercial sector, surely it should aspire to have inclusivity at its core? The general public is by-no-means a homogeneous group, and thus mechanisms for public participation should not follow a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. The questions we should be asking ourselves are: Can archaeology ever become fully inclusive? And if so, what does inclusive archaeology look like? Are inclusive strategies in archaeology sustainable? How can archaeology benefit disadvantaged groups and individuals? And how can their participation in-turn benefit the archaeological discipline?
We look forward to your views on this subject.