Some of the greatest archaeological sites in the world are found in Latin America, and archaeological tourism is widely touted as a solution to the poverty that plagues much of this region. Site museums are playing an important role in the presentation of these finds to the public. Whether created by national agencies, by the archaeologists working at these sites, or in response to local people's awareness of the potential development and economic benefits of tourism, site museums are major educational venues, promoting a sense of ownership of the past among resident or nearby populations, as well as greater local interest in cultural heritage and its preservation. At the same time, they constitute a major heritage management strategy; they can mitigate looting and site destruction, thereby serving as a first line of defense in site preservation. "Archaeological Site Museums in Latin America" is the first edited volume to deal with archaeological site museums. Complicated on many levels, the creation of a site museum is addressed in thirteen case studies by the contributors to this "how to," "what to expect," and "what not to" primer.
Nine of the authors have actually built or rehabilitated site museums and/or created a development project at one. Their undertakings have involved significant interaction with the local community in a highly equitable rather than top-down endeavor. This handbook for archaeologists and heritage managers can readily be incorporated into museum, heritage, and ethics courses, and actual field strategies.
Helaine Silverman is professor of anthropology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is the author of four books, including Ancient Nasca Settlement and Society.
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