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Interview with Dr. Mia Carey

Dr. Mia L. Carey is an anthropological archaeologist and an inclusion and equity consultant. She earned her doctorate from the University of Florida in 2017. Her dissertation research explored the history and legacy of Islam in the Black Experience following the excavation of Yarrow Mamout’s, an emancipated African Muslim, property in Washington, D.C. She is currently the Society for Historical Archaeology’s Gender and Minority Affairs Committee Chair.

Dr. Carey serves on the Advisory Committee for the “Documenting Sites and Landscapes in the Chesapeake Watershed Important to African Americans” initiative, which is a partnership between the National Trust for Historic Preservation; National Park Service Chesapeake Bay; the states of Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania; and the Chesapeake Conservation Partnership. She established Unearthing Our Past Consulting, LLC in March 2021 to continue her current focus on fostering inclusion and equity in archaeology and public history. Dr. Carey is the NPS Mellon Humanities Postdoctoral Fellow in the Legacy of the Civil Rights Movement.

LLO: What is the theme of your fellowship? Can you describe it’s significance to NPS?

MC: I am the Mellon Fellow in the Legacy of the Civil Rights Movement. Though I originally planned to aid the agency through offering the latest scholarship that would help enrich new interpretation and education, I realized that most staff were not ready for that. My fellowship is significant to NPS because it supports the holistic development and retention of a healthy workforce through programming centered on fostering empathy and compassion, increasing knowledge, and encouraging action. Through Let’s Talk About It, an informal distance learning program with a nationwide reach, and inclusion and equity conversations, agency staff gain a better understanding of the historic, on-going struggle for civil and human rights in the United States.

LLO: How could your fellowship be addressed on a landscape scale – by this I mean beyond one specific site or place as a theme to drive conservation and interpretation over a wider geographic area?

This fellowship expands beyond a specific site or place by providing a historical and contemporary context of inequality in any given place. By contextualizing the legacies of slavery and racism, we can gain an understanding, for example, of why toxic waste facilities are predominantly located in communities of color or why urban areas in low-income communities have more fast food and liquor stores than grocery stores with fresh food.

LLO: Conservationists want to protect 30% of the U.S. lands and waters by 2030 – what role can the humanities (your fellowship theme especially)  play in conserving large landscapes and in addressing issues like climate change?

A better understanding of racism and injustice can help conservationists engage everyone in conserving U.S. lands and waters for future generations.  The fight for equality and the fight to conserve the environment are inextricably linked. Many early conservationists, like John Muir and Madison Grant, have well documented racist views. Additionally, by understanding these early ideals and the emphasis on protecting the “pristine wilderness” one can understand how marginalized communities were disregarded. Engaging diverse audiences is beneficial in providing new creative ideas about conservation as well as righting a history of wrongs.

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