By Yannis Hamilakis, Philip Duke
The editors and participants to this quantity specialise in the inherent political nature of archaeology and its impression at the perform of the self-discipline. Pointing to the discipline’s historical past of advancing imperialist, colonialist, and racist targets, they insist that archaeology needs to reconsider its muted specialist stance and turn into extra brazenly energetic brokers of switch. The self-discipline isn't really approximately an summary “archaeological checklist” yet approximately dwelling participants and groups, whose lives and history be afflicted by the abuse of strength relationships with states and their brokers. in simple terms by means of spotting this strength disparity, and adopting a political ethic for the self-discipline, can archaeology justify its actions. Chapters variety from a critique of conventional moral codes, to examinations of the capitalist motivations and buildings in the self-discipline, to demands an engaged, emancipatory archaeology that improves the lives of the folk with whom archaeologists paintings. an instantaneous problem to the self-discipline, this quantity will galvanize dialogue, war of words, and thought for plenty of within the box.
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Additional info for Archaeology and Capitalism: From Ethics to Politics (One World Archaeology)
As Hamilakis (1999) points out in his study of the life history of the Parthenon/Elgin Marbles, the removal of the sculptures from Athens by Lord Elgin was only one episode in a long and complex history of individual, community and national relationships with the objects, including those that have emerged as a result of their removal and subsequent installation in the British Museum. A similar point is made by Gavin Lucas (2001) when he rightly observes that excavation is not really ‘destruction’ but the ‘transformation’ of a site, albeit a dramatic one.
The papers all are united by the common position that archaeology’s most fundamental responsibility – the heart of its ethical commitment – is not to that nebulous concept of ‘the past’, with its material remnants. Nor is its fundamental responsibility to science and objectivity. Rather, archaeology’s primary, perhaps only, responsibility is simply to contemporary people. Nick Shepherd examines how the controversy between ownership of an early Colonial cemetery in Cape Town is rooted in, amongst other issues, the idea that archaeology should be scientific (a legacy of processualism) and that our interpretation of the past will have a universal relevance (a legacy of cultural resource management).
These questions will help provide context-specific answers to the dilemmas of conservation and protection. In addition, in some cases archaeologists may want to borrow concepts from the green movement and implement a strategy of sustainability (cf Lyons 2003:305), but even this principle carries its own problems and should be subjected to political critique rather than seen as a transcendental value. It is, of course, disingenuous to assume that all archaeologists today will share the same ethical and political views on this and other issues.
Archaeology and Capitalism: From Ethics to Politics (One World Archaeology) by Yannis Hamilakis, Philip Duke