Published in the Journal of Social Archaeology, this article by Asst. Prof. Sevil Hatice Baltalı Tırpan discusses her experiences of joining the Kerkenes Project which has been a part of as assistant director since 2010. The project which was designed to make archaeology better understood and more accessible to the community to generate “heritage awareness” of the locals around the well-known Iron Age site of Kerkenes in central Turkiye, did not result in sustained collaborative relationships or greater appreciation as archaeologists had hoped. This study points out how archaeologists and locals can become entangled in socio-political frameworks beyond their control.

After joining the Kerkenes Project in 2010 as assistant director, Asst. Prof. Baltalı Tırpan has noticed the gap in understanding between community members and the archaeological team. This article discusses how the villagers of Kerkenes, have experienced feeling dehumanized as Muslim migrant workers in Europe, and how the archaeologists' heritage-making practices inadvertently triggered symbolic associations of the project with the colonial endeavor and thus, locals produced counter-narratives about the site as a decolonizing response.