SAA PEC Biographies

Cameron Jean Walker

Dept. of Anthropology, California State University, Fullerton, 7 Recodo, Irvine, CA 92620 , 714-730-0831, camwalker@aol.com, cwalker@fullerton.edu

Description of past and current involvement in public outreach and education

I have taught classes in anthropology and archaeology for almost fifteen years in the Department of Anthropology at California State University, Fullerton. My Ph.D. dissertation, “Heritage or Heresy:  Public Interpretation of Archaeology and Culture in the Maya Riviera” (UCR 2003), explored how archaeological sites are interpreted to the public and the effectiveness of the current educational strategies in a setting that has been radically developed for tourism. Part of this study was published as a book Heritage or Heresy: Archaeology and Culture on the Maya Riviera, by the University of Alabama Press in 2009.  Another book, Tourism and Archaeology:  Sustainable Meeting Grounds, (in press) co-edited with Neil Carr, Ph.D., of the University of Otago, New Zealand, explores the many areas of mutual concern and conflict surrounding archaeological sites that have been opened for tourism.  I was on the Governing Board of the Archaeological Institute of America for ten years and served two terms as AIA Vice-President for Societies, which included the committees for Education and Trips and Tours. 

Over the years, I have spearheaded numerous programs, including teachers’ workshops, archaeology fairs, and paper sessions on topics relating to educating the public about archaeology.  I helped design and implement the Bowers Kidseum permanent archaeology program, Dig, Discover and Detect, and will again act as a consultant with the Bowers Museum of Cultural Art to organize and direct archaeology camps and workshops for the summer of 2010.  My other publications include several articles on archaeological tourism, including “Archaeological Tourism, Looking for Answers Along Mexico’s Maya Riviera”, NAPA Bulletin.

Interest in PEC Membership

I have served as Network Coordinator for the SAAPEC for the last many years but have found it difficult to actually “coordinate” effectively in a state such as California.  My enthusiasm continues for finding ways to promote public education projects and to interact with others interested in the field in order to be a part of the dynamic creative process.  I believe that it is our responsibility, as archaeologists, to educate the public about our field; otherwise, we leave it to Indiana Jones, Lara Croft, and pseudoscientists to describe what we do and why we do it.  The experience gained during my extensive dissertation research, as well as from the valuable and diverse contacts I have made over the last several years, provides motivation to help advance the field of public education.  Additionally, enjoy working in a team environment, and am organized and project-oriented.

Area of interest:

Finding ways to keep archaeological issues relevant in the 21st century, and effectively teach the public about archaeology remains my strongest intellectual passion.  More recently, I have been deeply involved with devising an applied approach that links the archaeological site (visited by tourists) to local communities in ways that engender sustainable socioeconomic incentives while also promoting site conservation and discouraging looting at the local level.

Target audience(s): the interested public and all funders of archaeological applied projects.