Bitter Legacies: Archaeology and the Politics of Reparations in the United States

On the 23th of September prof. dr. Tony Platt (San José State University, California) will give the guest lecture: ‘Bitter legacies: Archaeology and the politics of reparations in the United States’


Bitter legacies: Archaeology and the politics of reparations in the United States

Genocidal policies against Native peoples in the northwest United States in the mid-19th century were accompanied by expropriation of lands and exploitation of survivors, followed by the systematic looting in the 20th century of Native gravesites in the name of science, education, and sport. The graves of Native peoples in the Far West became an important and abused resource for museums, universities, and hobbyists until the Red Power movement organized a successful movement to stop this practice. In the 20th century, the creation of a public narrative of the region’s past both excused and legitimated racist images of Native Americans, making it easier for future generations to evade a reckoning with our tragic and sorrowful history. The American West continues to be shaped, culturally and socially, by these bitter legacies and by struggles over reparations. What will it take to create a public history that does justice to the past?

The guestlecture is organised by the Faculty of Archaeology / Institute of Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology MA in Museum Studies of Leiden University and the National Museum of Ethnology in Leiden.


Date: September  23, 2013 from 13.00-15.00 hours.
Location: National Museum of Ethnology, Leiden

Tony Platt

Tony PlattTony Platt is the author of ten books and 150 essays and articles dealing with issues of race, inequality, and social justice in American history. Platt taught at the University of Chicago, University of California (Berkeley), and California State University (Sacramento). He is currently a Visiting Professor in Department of Justice Studies, San José State University, California. His publications have been translated into German, Spanish, Italian, and Japanese. He is a member of the Coordinating Committee of the Network to Address California’s Eugenic Past and has written about the history of eugenics in Bloodlines: Recovering Hitler’s Nuremberg Laws, From Patton’s Trophy to Public Memorial (Paradigm Publishers, 2006). A new 40th anniversary edition of his 1969 book, The Child Savers: The Invention of Delinquency, was published by Rutgers in 2009. His latest book, Grave Matters: Excavating California’s Buried Past (Heyday, 2011) deals with the history of the plundering of Native American graves for science, profit, and pleasure. He lives in Berkeley and Big Lagoon, California, and serves as secretary of the Coalition to Protect Yurok Cultural Legacies at O-pyuweg (Big Lagoon). Platt, a founding member of editorial board of Social Justice, blogs on history and memory at


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