CAP at the Cultural Landscapes and Heritage Values Conference

This May, the Campus Archaeology fellows will be presenting our research projects at the interdisciplinary Cultural Landscapes and Heritage Values conference held at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. The goal of this conference is to bring together scholars from multiple fields in order to discuss a variety of relating themes regarding issues of social justice and power, authenticity and integrity, tangible and intangible heritage, and sustainability in cultural landscape management.

Our symposium focuses mostly on the latter themes and is titled “Universities as Examples of Cultural Heritage Planning, Understanding Landscapes, and Being Sustainable.” The papers given will discuss the major research projects that CAP has recently worked on. Much of this research has been featured in various blog posts, but these papers will offer a much more broader view on each topic. This first paper describes how Michigan State has integrated sustainable food practices throughout its history through the examination of food production and choices over the course of MSU’s history. Women on campus are also related to changing landscapes through the creation of gendered spaces and the creation of a predictive model. Concepts of authenticity are employed in regards to the “sacred space” on campus and the perceived views of the undisturbed space. And finally, the prehistoric past on campus is explored and how this has shaped further historical developments on campus. All of these presentations will demonstrate how archaeology can benefit and enhance archival materials to help understand our historic past. They also demonstrate the impact and importance of Campus Archaeology to Michigan State University.

As this is not a typical archaeological conference, this will give us an opportunity to interact with scholars from other fields. It will allow us to demonstrate our broad impact on cultural heritage to a wide audience and gain insights on how it is approached and managed in other disciplines. We are also proud to announce that the Heritage Values Interest Group of the Society of American Archaeology has sponsored our session, which is a great honor.

Listed below are the titles of our papers and our abstracts, starting with our symposium abstract:

Universities as Examples of Cultural Heritage Planning, Understanding Landscapes, and Being Sustainable

Organizer: Lynne Goldstein

Land Grant institutions in the U.S. represent places that were originally oriented to educating and training farmers, but even in their growth and expansion, have always been places of reform and experimentation. In that context, this symposium looks at landscape, cultural heritage, planning, and sustainability of one of the pioneer land grant colleges: Michigan State University (MSU). In particular, we use the lens of the MSU Campus Archaeology Program (CAP) to demonstrate how archaeology can contribute to current conversations on major issues of today. CAP uses the past to make the University better stewards, but also to experiment with new approaches, integrate archaeology into planning and training, and bring students and the broader public into discussion of larger issues of heritage and sustainability. Each paper in this session represents one of Campus Archaeology’s major projects.

Created Landscapes, Managing Heritage, Being Sustainable, and Learning from the Past: A Land Grant University and Its Campus Archaeology Program

Lynne Goldstein

The Michigan State University (MSU) Campus Archaeology Program (CAP) has existed for fewer than 10 years, and although we conduct archaeological work prior to University construction, we do much more. We have convinced MSU that it needs to be better stewards of its past, and the University has agreed. We do archaeology prior to ANY campus construction, whether it is a new building or planting a new bush. In addition to acting as stewards of the campus’ past, we focus on training students, engaging the broader community in the importance of the past to the present, and conducting independent research on the past. In 2014, we realized that although we had been well integrated into the university infrastructure system, we were not being included in the planning process. I offered an intensive class on Cultural Heritage Planning, and as a group we drafted a cultural heritage plan for the campus. The possibility of our success was realized when the Planning Office agreed to consider integration of our plan into the new University Master Plan. This paper outlines the process of this planning and some possible broader implications.

How the Michigan State University Campus Archaeology Program Has Examined Sustainability Through Time.

Nicole Geske, Lisa Bright, and Amy Michael

The role of universities in sustainability and cultural landscape management has largely been ignored. However, sustainability can often be studied more effectively at the university level, where there is a microcosm of greater society and its issues. To examine these questions, archival records and archaeology can be used to identify sustainable practices throughout the past using accepted benchmarks of energy, food, and transportation. To demonstrate the utility of this approach, we focus on sustainability of food systems at MSU through time.

As a land grant institution with a focus on agriculture, MSU incorporated food systems into the physical and cultural landscape since its inception. Sustainability in food practices was a large part of this effort, as it was required in order to maintain the campus. This self-reliance on food continued until the student population and surrounding community expanded to the point where it was no longer practical to be the sole producer of food. This change also mirrored larger societal trends where artificial and canned foods became preferred to those grown on campus. The University’s long tradition of food system sustainability allows the connection of historic data to modern trends creating holistic views of changing landscapes.

Understanding and Predicting Gendered Space on the Historic Campus at Michigan State University

Amy Michael and Josh Burbank

Although women were present on the historic campus, they were essentially an appendage to a male-dominated landscape focused on agricultural education. Females were officially admitted by 1870, though geographic isolation and lack of dormitory space ensured that enrollment was low until 1896 when the Home Economics course was created. Historical records demonstrate that during 1900-1925 there was a rapid rise in visibility of female students. Cultural norms of the time were at odds with these “co-eds,” as women were absent from home and pursuing education independently. Writings from memoirs and literary clubs illustrate tensions between the university and females as the administration enacted rules to maintain order on the increasingly integrated campus. Student council records reflect the desires of women to govern themselves, while journals detailed the gendered constraint felt academically and spatially.

We explore questions related to the building, maintaining, and fissioning of gendered space on the historic campus during 1900-1925. Further, archaeological correlates and material culture linked to changing gender roles and expectations will be explored. The combined archival/archaeological approach will allow for the creation of a predictive model of a historic gendered landscape that can inform future excavations by the Campus Archaeology Program.

What Does it Mean to be Sacred? Campus Archaeology, Authenticity and the Sacred Space of MSU

Katy Meyers Emery

Michigan State University’s campus began as a small grouping of buildings within an oak opening, and since the 1870s, when the College President decreed that no further construction was allowed within this central wooded area, it has been known as the “sacred space”. The Campus Archaeology Program has worked diligently since 2005 to investigate and protect the archaeological integrity of this historic portion of campus, and much of our work has been located within this ‘sacred space’. The ‘sacred space’ is perceived as the last historic and authentic feature of MSU’s campus, which has led to the it being discussed as a static preserved landscape- a perception that we too as the archaeologists on campus have perpetuated to some extent. However, despite being ‘sacred’, construction and reconstruction of the space has continued at a steady pace throughout the over 150 years of campus life. This paper investigates the manner in which the ‘sacred space’ has been treated and perceived in the past and today, the authenticity of its modern description and perception, and how we as archaeologists promote the protection and integrity of the space, while also addressing the changes of this living landscape, both the tangible and intangible.

Reading between the Lines: How MSU Campus Archaeology Evaluates the Past

Blair Zaid and Kate Frederick

This paper investigates both the tangible and intangible heritage of Michigan State University’s campus. The priority of historical heritage at MSU creates a silence of the multiple influences of the development of the campus, specifically the ‘Sacred Space.’ The ‘Sacred Space’ a designated area in the oldest part of campus now set aside for its aesthetic charms, has evidence for a prehistoric site dating to 3000 B.P. This paper posits that prehistoric and early historic land use by Native American populations over time influenced how the ‘Sacred Space’ was formed during the construction and protection of the space.  Using archaeological, geological, historical, and ethnohistorical information, this paper aims to interpret elements of the prehistoric landscape to better understand the multiple influences that helped shape the ‘Sacred Space.’ This project will ultimately help the MSU Campus Archaeology Program construct a Cultural Heritage Management Plan for the University and ‘unsilence’ the overlooked contributions of prehistoric Native American populations to the changing landscape of MSU.

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