Over the last two decades, there has been increasing attention to community archaeology, an archaeology which acknowledges the impact of archaeological research upon the communities among which it is conducted. Doing fieldwork has tangible effects upon the people we work among: archaeologists provide employment, spend money locally, negotiate local power structures, provide exotic connections, and, not least, change the landscape of knowledge by helping local people understand more or different things about their ancestors and about their own historical identity. While this is true worldwide, within American Historical Archaeology this strand of research has converged with a tradition of sophisticated materialist analysis highlighting not only class domination but also resistance and the persistence of alternative practices, ideologies and identities. A key element of this archaeology is public participation in the process of revealing a past of domination, struggle and resistance. The result is an archaeology which aspires not only to revise traditionally endorsed accounts of American history, but also to be an activist archaeology.
Mark Leone began this line of activist, participatory historical archaeology many years ago in Annapolis, and many of the scholars currently contributing to this body of work have been trained or inspired by this project. In The Archaeology of Liberty in an American Capital, Leone summarizes twenty-five years of research at Annapolis.
The Archaeology of Liberty in an American Capital: Excavations in Annapolis has received the Society for Historical Archaeology's James Deetz Book Award for 2008.