This session explores the conflation of materialities and mentalities in contemporary archaeology and its representation in tourism. We suggest that heritage has more to offer than simply reifying social orders, explicating evolutionary processes or apologising for modern logic systems.
This session explores the conflation of materialities and mentalities which has become commonplace in contemporary archaeological and tourism discourses. Since the philosophical and popular acceptance of Descartes' dichotomy of mind and body, material objects have functioned as passive representations for the veracity of ideological concepts and mentalities. Through (re)created auras of revealed strata of human occupation, materialities are correlated to essentialist, positivist systems of social development - a system of which contemporary society is assumed to be the logical inheritor. Based on an acceptance of various dichotomies, archaeology has grown as a rational science which manifests evidential materiality, explicating modern Western temporal, evolutionary and geographical logic systems. The papers in this session will move on from the working hypothesis that the logical representation of materiality as evidence of mentality is fundamental to the project of archaeology. Instead, we suggest that archaeological materialities may function as representational 'apologies' for modern mentalities. The debates of the session will centre on an exploration of recent theories on the politics of verticality, cosmopolitanism, image conflict and spectatorship through specific case studies. We suggest that archaeology and heritage has more to offer than simply reifying social orders, explicating evolutionary processes or apologising for modern logic systems. We wish to move archaeology away from apologising for the conflict of images in modern Western society and towards a dynamic expressionism of human understanding of being, logic, materiality and temporality.