Recent decades have seen an upsurge in visitation to rock art sites as well as an increase in commercial reproduction of rock art and attempts to understand the meaning and function of that art within the indigenous cultures that produced it. What motivates this growing interest and what do these interpretations and appropriations of Native American petroglyphs and pictographs reveal about contemporary cultural dynamics? Focusing on the southwestern U.S., this book critically examines the contemporary implications of the interpretation, appropriation, commodification, and management of indigenous rock art.
Neither archaeological interpretations nor commercial reproductions of rock art operate in a cultural vacuum. Both the motivation to seek out rock art and the specific meanings attached to it are deeply embedded in narratives about Native Americans already created by anthropologists, archaeologists, photographers, novelists, film and television producers, the tourism industry, and New Age discourse. For those interested in rock art as a window into indigenous cultures of the past, our contemporary projections of meanings are of great concern. Applying the tools of critical/cultural studies to both academic and popular discourse, Rogers explores the implications of such projections for rock art studies, contemporary gender dynamics, and the neocolonial relationship between Euro-Americans and Native Americans.
Richard A. Rogers is a professor of communication studies and associate faculty in women’s and gender studies at Northern Arizona University. A rock art enthusiast, avocational archaeologist, and cultural critic, he has explored the rock art and archaeology of the Colorado Plateau and Great Basin for more than 25 years. His research has appeared in numerous journals, including American Indian Rock Art, Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, and Environmental Communication.
Praise and Reviews:
“This is a significant work. Approaching rock art from a critical/cultural studies perspective while focusing on contemporary uses and understandings of rock art positions the book in a unique space—a space that will garner attention from archaeologists, anthropologists, historians, among others, and challenge scholars to think differently about the images and sites that form the focus of their research.”
—Liam M. Brady, author of Pictures, Patterns, and Objects: Rock-Art from the Torres Strait Islands, NE Australia
“Archaeologists and historic preservation specialists certainly need to read this. Rock art enthusiasts need to read this. Park rangers need to read this. And others should read it—the unsettling messages and useful critical methods are broadly important, and the focus on rock art delivers an appealing, fun, and attractive way to ‘get it.’ There are no other books that do what this one does.”
—Kelley Hays-Gilpin, professor, Northern Arizona University and Edward Bridge Danson Chair of Anthropology at the Museum of Northern Arizona
“Richard Rogers’s examination of communication referencing Native American rock art in the non-Native discursive world guarantees polarized responses. Disarmingly accessible, unflaggingly self-reflexive and subtly subversive, the book is grounded in scholarship about and personal interaction with those who mark the landscape of the Southwest. In so doing Rogers articulates and undermines the rock art community’s common sense understandings. The result is an invitation to dialogue among cultures otherwise radically separated by time and space.”
—Christine Oravec, Professor Emerita of Communication, University of Utah