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. From 2018 to 2021, she served as the National Park Service Mellon Humanities Postdoctoral Fellow in the Legacy of the Civil Rights Movement.
LLO: Can you describe the significance of your fellowship and its theme to the 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 to enrich new interpretation and education, I realized that most staff were not ready for that yet. 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?
MC: This fellowship expands beyond a specific site or place but 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 foot and liquor stores than grocery stores with fresh food. This information is useful in conversation because it helps identity any systemic barriers and can be useful in identifying tribes that were originally on the landscape.
LLO: Conservationists want to protect 30% of the US 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?
MC: A better understanding of racism and injustice can help conservationists engage everyone in conserving US 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.
Previous Featured Voices
John Sprinkle, historian and author of Saving Spaces: Historical Land Conservation in the United States and Crafting the Preservation Criteria: The Origins of the National Register of Historic Places.
Don Hellman, the former Assistant Director for Legislative and Congressional Affairs for the National Park Service. Don ended his 40-year career working with Congress at the beginning of 2017, which included the last 22 years with the National Park Service.
Emily M. Bateson, coordinator for the Network for Landscape Conservation. She was previously Conservation Director at the Highstead Foundation and Coordinator of the New England Wildlands and Woodlands Initiative.
Jackie M.M. Gonzales, an environmental historian with experience working in the nonprofit and public sector.
Allen Dieterich-Ward, urban and environmental historian and author of Beyond Rust: Metropolitan Pittsburgh and the State of Industrial America