Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Archaeology: Global in Practice

From understanding not just the post-colonial critique in archaeology itself, but the reasons for which it has developed, a rightful place for archaeology starts to appear. This course has offered several resistances to the archaeological endeavor insofar as questioning the impetuses and practices behind it. What seems to remain is still, as ever, a strong need to reformulate the conception of archaeology. The main question that has continued to repossess this study, or perhaps just my perception of it, is the matter of "for what" and "for why."

This analysis has come to show that beyond the political realm in which an answer might be particularly essential, the answer of: "to learn more about the past" in any given manifestation of the past, is not sufficient. A desire to learn more about the past is not an apolitical, neutral pursuit. Rather, it has come to be one that is laden with controversy and contempt.  However, this is not for no reason. An accepted, objective view of the past is inherently subjective. The questions of for what and for why have come to be restructured in terms of why is it relevant to the present; why should I care?

This notion of pursuing a global archaeology has relentlessly encountered the impasse of history gendered by historiography. In this way, a global archaeology has become an 'archaeography' in which the focus is how archaeology has been pursued around the world. We have witnessed how prevalent this concern is in contemporary political affairs. Likewise, in the pursuit of world archaeology we have come to see how archaeology seemingly functions as a way of knowing, an epistemology, more than anything else. 

Thus, we return to the first consideration with Said. The result of encountering the other, describing and understanding, tells more of the self than any other by answering the question, "why should I care?" What results is a view of archaeology in which the archaeological endeavor under the Nazi's is not an exception to how archaeology is potent in our world, but an instantiation of the rule. Archaeology as a disciplinary pursuit is political. When considered as a mode of perception and knowledge-definition, or an epistemology, archaeology is inherently relevant and ought to be exploited as such. As Mrozowski and Wurst demand: "...the issue is not whether or not archaeology is or can be socially relevant, but how archaeologists can use their ‘craft’ to further the goals of an activist agenda" (2014; 215).

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