Evaluating the development impacts of archaeology and heritage in Peru and Ecuador

Dupeyron, Agathe (2022) Evaluating the development impacts of archaeology and heritage in Peru and Ecuador. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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This thesis examines the ways in which archaeology and heritage can contribute to development, and how these impacts can be rigorously evaluated despite resource constraints, and while acknowledging local power dynamics. Evaluation can be a powerful tool to promote accountability to local communities, and to learn from past mistakes. My research compares evaluation methods in the regional context of the South American Andes, where archaeological sites abound and are an untapped resource for local development. Projects seeking to promote cultural heritage to improve the quality of life of neighbouring communities – ‘archaeology for development’ projects – often lack access to evaluation tools and do not systematically collect data that could be used for monitoring. This makes it harder for them to be accountable to local stakeholders, and achieve the reflexivity that would enable them to improve their activities. This thesis aims to address that gap by assessing what evaluation methods might be appropriate for projects aiming to utilise communities’ pasts to build better futures.

This PhD thesis makes significant contributions to the field of development, as it advocates for the recognition of cultural heritage’s untapped potential in terms of improving wellbeing. This is demonstrated by the evaluation of three projects, which share a concentration on archaeological heritage and a similar background, yet focus on different aspects of development. This thesis also engages with current debates within development evaluation, and gives practical considerations on how the heritage sector can better engage with evaluation, highlighting the trade-offs between feasibility and rigour in the context of small-scale projects where evaluation is not routinely conducted.

I focus on three villages where ‘archaeology for development’ projects take place in Peru and Ecuador. These case studies are an archaeology research project with an educational outreach component (Cabana, Pallasca, Peru), a project using ancient irrigation technology to mitigate climate change (Miraflores, Yauyos, Peru) and a community-based sustainable tourism project based on the local archaeological heritage (Agua Blanca, Manabí, Ecuador).

My methodology centres both on the assessment of the projects’ existing Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) strategies and the comparison of methods implemented during fieldwork. These include rapid ethnography (6 weeks for each site), small-scale surveys (between 50-130 participants per village) and participatory workshops. It shows that projects using archaeology for development in the specific context of the Andes share enough characteristics in terms of their aims and logistical challenges that they can use a similar strategy for evaluation.

The first empirical chapter examines the current monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL) strategies employed by the three projects. Depending on the types of stakeholders involved (local governments, NGOs, indigenous communities, academics), these projects have differential access to MEL strategies, and mitigate this by employing other mechanisms for reflexivity, such as community assemblies.

The second empirical chapter showcases the result of my evaluation, highlighting the projects’ complex and interrelated impacts, and their interplay with local politics. Despite their differences in focus and implementation, all three projects have impacts in the economic, social and environmental domains, and become an arena in which stakeholders express local power dynamics. Treating these projects, or dimensions of their work, as the analytical category of ‘archaeology for development’ enables greater consistency in approaching how to evaluate them.

The third empirical chapter focuses on the strengths and weaknesses of the tested methods, by analysing the extent to which they are robust, trustworthy, ethical and culturally appropriate, useable and feasible. No single method can tick all these boxes, but with methodological plurality, it is possible to rigorously evaluate a project despite time, personnel, and budget constraints.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Global Development (formerly School of International Development)
Depositing User: Jennifer Whitaker
Date Deposited: 20 Jun 2023 16:33
Last Modified: 20 Jun 2023 16:33
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/92445


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