By Yannis Hamilakis, Philip Duke

The editors and members to this quantity specialize 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 develop into extra brazenly lively brokers of swap. The self-discipline isn't really approximately an summary “archaeological list” yet approximately dwelling contributors and groups, whose lives and history be afflicted by the abuse of energy relationships with states and their brokers. basically via 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, confrontation, and notion for lots of within the box.

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Extra info for Archaeology and Capitalism: From Ethics to Politics (One World Archaeology)

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For example, when the London Bridge was moved to Arizona, neither English nor London’s cultures ceased to exist, even though one of its most recognizable landmarks had been taken away. When the World Trade Center collapsed, New York City’s cultural identity was not diminished. On the contrary, to a degree New Yorkers developed a greater sense of pride and community despite the loss to its skyline. We are not condoning either the theft, displacement, or destruction of cultural property, which many export laws and repatriation efforts are aimed at remedying; we simply raise the question to what degree other cultures have the same capacity to survive such losses.

An explicitly political archaeology should address the genealogy of official archaeology as a 34 Chapter 1 device of western capitalist modernity, and interrogate the conservation (and exhibition) ethic and the power dynamics that gave birth and continue to sustain this device. This means not simply the investigation of how, for example, colonialism, nationalism or capitalism have shaped archaeological thinking and practice, but also how archaeological practice itself has contributed and continues to contribute to the reproduction of these ideologies and practices.

While important reasons exist for respecting such efforts, it is equally important to identify and understand the unanticipated and perhaps less beneficial ramifications, such as promoting nationalist perspectives and inhibiting the development of alternative discourses (the complexities of this conundrum are nicely illustrated in McIntosh et al 1996 [1989]). In some cases (as in the Peru example below) these efforts result in the state’s ownership and control over cultural materials most closely affiliated with indigenous groups largely disempowered within their own country.

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Archaeology and Capitalism: From Ethics to Politics (One by Yannis Hamilakis, Philip Duke
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