Who Owns the Past? Power, Politics, and Archaeology (FNDS 3902)

The past is not neutral.

This class explores this idea, recognizing how representations of and stories about the past play a role in modern political discussions and conflicts. Issues such as race, religion, national sovereignty, and both individual and group rights to self-determination, education, and property are all deeply entwined with how we learn about and tell each other about the past.

We consider archaeological and historic sites and controversies in Asia, Africa, the Mideast, and the US, and focus on discussion and argumentative writing skills.

This course covers topics in the disciplines of Anthropology and Museum Studies.


Who should take this course?

People who like to think about how history matters in the present, people who don’t think that history matters in the present.

More about this course

Course number: FNDS 3902

Number of Credits: 3

Search UM-Dearborn Class Schedule to find out more.

Dearborn Discovery Core requirements met: Humanities and the Arts, Upper-Level Writing Intensive


Meet your faculty member: John Chenoweth, Associate Professor of Anthropology

One of the benefits of taking a Foundations course is gaining a faculty mentor that can support you throughout your college career. Get to know John Chenoweth, faculty member for Who Owns the Past? Power, Politics, and Archaeology.

Who Owns the Past? Power, Politics, and Archaeology
John Chenoweth


I’m an archaeologist and anthropologist.  To prove it, here’s a picture of me digging up something old!  

I look at the past through artifacts, sites, and documents, but I do it in order to understand how people work. I’ve excavated in the Caribbean, Honduras, Panama, Hawaii, Massachusetts, and here in Michigan to study religion, identity, and race.


Have questions about this course? Email Dr. Chenoweth at jmchenow@umich.edu.​