What is Archaeological Ethnography?
Source: Public Archaeology, Volume 8, Numbers 2-3, August 2009 , pp. 65-87(23)
Publisher: Maney Publishing
Abstract:In this introductory essay to this volume, we chart and survey an emerging field, that of archaeological ethnography. We show its links and associations with both disciplinary and social-political trends in archaeology and in social anthropology in the last decades, and discuss some of the key recent work that has been carried out under this rubric. We argue that archaeological ethnography needs to be defined broadly, as a trans-disciplinary and transcultural space that enables researchers and diverse publics to engage in various conversations, exchanges, and interventions. Material traces from various times are at the centre of this emerging space. The production of his space requires a radical rethinking of the ontological and epistemological basis of archaeology, questioning the modernist roots of official archaeologies, and demonstrating the existence of other, public discourses, practices and engagements with the material past which can be defined as alternative archaeologies. Archaeological ethnography can bring to the fore these alternative engagements without necessarily endorsing their premises, being constantly alert to their political connotations and renderings. The main interconnected facets of archaeological ethnography as we propose it here are its critical reflexivity, its holistic and multi-sited nature, its multi-temporal rather than presentist character, its sensuous and sensory engagement with the world, its political commitment, and its conception as collective and team practice, which transcends the boundaries between the researcher and his or her diverse publics.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 2009-08-01