IHC.public is the public archaeology (or community archaeology) department of the IHC. IHC.public research projects seek to incorporate as closely as possible local knowledge in the management and presentation of public heritage. The vision of public heritage as a common resource leads to the development of archaeological and ethnographic tools, groups and techniques. Archaeologists and ethnographers thus act as interlocutors, not only of archaeological management, but also of other resources in a local community. They help locals understand the potential of their site and connect them with resources and networks. IHC.public, through its projects, aims to energize local institutions and social groups, in order to participate more actively in the civic life of local communities and their areas in general. Finally, employing archaeological law to the benefit of a local community, public archaeology aims to plan ahead for sustainable local development.
In this context, public archaeology becomes an intervention that is not restricted to ancient artifacts, but also to the current state of a place and its inhabitants. Archaeology and ethnography may be seen as common resources for the local community and off-site stakeholders to negotiate forms of sustainable development for the area at large. Through the actions of public, or community archaeology, forms of communal decision making are developed that lead to increased participation in communal affairs at large and the strengthening of participation in existing community bodies.
Finally, archaeologists and ethnographers bring to the community their own resources, knowledge, skills and connections, in order to enable the community to reach larger audiences and chart sustainable futures. Through open-ended interviews, focus groups and participant observation, researchers seek to open the archaeological procedure transforming it into a “knowledge of place” that is community-produced and controlled. Both the methodology and the research procedure are constantly presented, discussed and modified to local demands and ethical claims.