Hierarchies of engagement and understanding: community engagement during archaeological excavations at Khao Toh Chong rockshelter, Krabi, Thailand
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In this chapter we present a case study showing an explicit strategy for local community engagement at an archaeological excavation in southern Thailand. We show how we tailored our approach to engagement to suit different sections of the local community. Our experience and strategies are probably familiar to many archaeologists working in the Southeast Asian region who have independently converged on similar approaches. We review the history of cultural heritage management in Thailand and show that while government policy has focussed resources on tourism at monumental sites, academic work has been most progressive in pioneering local community engagement at archaeological sites. Inspired by this progress, this chapter aims to provide a basic template for public engagement at various scales by explicitly documenting our strategies of local engagement at an excavation we conducted in Peninsular Thailand. We describe a model of understandings of archaeology that we found useful to strategise our engagement with the public. By providing this template we hope to make the process of promoting cultural engagement at archaeological excavations more effective and efficient for future projects.