Next Article in Journal
Prospects and Challenges for Disseminating Life Cycle Thinking towards Environmental Conscious Behaviors in Daily Lives
Next Article in Special Issue
Two Rivers: The Politics of Wild Salmon, Indigenous Rights and Natural Resource Management
Previous Article in Journal
Resilience of Outdoor Spaces in an Era of Climate Change: The Problem of Developing Countries
Previous Article in Special Issue
Monocropping Cultures into Ruin: The Loss of Food Varieties and Cultural Diversity
Article Menu

Export Article

Open AccessArticle
Sustainability 2013, 5(1), 100-122;

Rumors of Our Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated: Archaeological Perspectives on Culture and Sustainability

Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Lehigh University, 681 Taylor Street, Bethlehem, PA 18015, USA
Received: 5 November 2012 / Revised: 14 December 2012 / Accepted: 17 December 2012 / Published: 7 January 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Endangered Human Diversity: Languages, Cultures, Epistemologies)
Full-Text   |   PDF [223 KB, uploaded 24 February 2015]


Predictions of the imminent demise of Indigenous cultures have circulated among Western intellectuals for more than two hundred years. Capitalism, Christianity, and Western civilization were thought by 19th century scholars to be on the verge of eradicating global cultural variation. Contemporary scholars have revived these views, suggesting that not only were Indigenous cultures about to succumb to Western hegemony, these forces were poised to bring about the end of history itself. What unites these perspectives are an ideology stressing asymmetrical power relations between the West and Indigenous cultures, and the proposition that only Western intervention is capable of rescuing Indigeneity. This paper examines the current crisis of Indigenous cultural sustainability, arguing that the epistemology informing many of these perspectives remain largely unchanged from their 19th century precursors. Citing case studies in archaeology and cultural heritage management, I suggest a ground-up approach to cultural sustainability in which Western institutions and individuals serve only the expressed desires and at the invitation of Indigenous peoples. Such restraint represents both recognition of Indigenous sovereignty regarding all cultural preservation efforts, as well as the dynamic, ever-changing nature of culture itself. View Full-Text
Keywords: culture; sustainability; epistemology; archaeology; culture heritage culture; sustainability; epistemology; archaeology; culture heritage
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Wesson, C.B. Rumors of Our Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated: Archaeological Perspectives on Culture and Sustainability. Sustainability 2013, 5, 100-122.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Related Articles

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics



[Return to top]
Sustainability EISSN 2071-1050 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top