S22
Archaeology under communism: political dimensions of archaeology

Convenors:
Ludomir Lozny (Hunter College, CUNY)
Location:
Wills OCC
Start time:
17 December, 2010 at 14:00
Session slots:
1

Short abstract:

Political history of archaeology examines events, ideas, movements, leaders and their impact on archaeological theories and practices. Participants of this session will critically evaluate the impact of local political settings on archaeology during the communist era in Europe.

Long abstract:

If we assume that political context stimulates archaeological thinking and conditions our activities, we may conclude that knowledge of the past is never absolute, nor certain, but must be contextualized to a particular time and political settings. Our understanding of the past than relates to our understanding of the present. Subsequently, archaeological thinking about the past should not be reduced to a mechanical application of naive positivism dressed up as scientific procedure; equally, we should not believe that criteria of testability and falsification may be abandoned in favor of speculations about unrecorded intentions in which anyone's opinion is as good as anyone else's. Archaeologists should be after understanding of the past but also after understanding how we understand (imagine) the past, and must critically examine the political milieu in which knowledge is produced and propagated. This session offers a forum to discuss the (innate?) bond between archaeology and politics. Local political agendas affect archaeology, its research themes, theories and methodologies, project designs, and overall structuring of the field. European communists' governments lavishly sponsored archaeological research but the results have often been used for political gains. The impact is, for instance, well visible in issues like ethnicity, cultural identity, nationalism, territoriality, etc., frequently appearing in research agendas.The contributors will have 20 min. each, to present their papers and critically evaluate the political scene and its impact on archaeological thought and practice during the communist era in Europe.