Accepted Paper:

Theory in Eastern European archaeology under the Communist rule  


Ludomir Lozny (Hunter College, CUNY)

Paper short abstract:

The point discussed is that the Communist ruling did not inflict strict rules on archaeological thinking and archaeologists generally followed the positivist culture-history mixed with elements of Marxist-inspired traditions introduced before the post-1945 systemic transition.

Paper long abstract:

The point of this presentation is to show that the Eastern European Communist regimes did not inflict strict rules on archaeological thinking. Archaeology in the former East European Bloc cannot be viewed as deeply rooted in the Marxian paradigm but as a blend of the functional perspective mixed with elements of the positivist and Marxian approaches. Marxist social and historical theories became popular in the social sciences and humanities of the 20th century but a full acceptance of Marxist theories by Eastern European archaeologists happened rarely. Unlike the positivist currents so overwhelmingly present in European archaeological tradition to this day, simplified Marxism was used as an analytical tool rather than theory. The methodology to use material evidence to explain past social interactions was common to a broader European archaeological tradition and did not contradict the functional in essence positivist tradition. Marxist-inspired ideas, especially historical materialism, have been introduced from the West (Childe, the Annales School) and the political context established in Eastern Europe after 1945 reinforced those approaches. Interestingly, Marxist-based social archaeology present in the USSR and South America was not common in Eastern Europe. I conclude that as the post-1945 systemic change has not impacted archaeological theories dramatically, also the new political and economic settings introduced in Eastern Europe after 1990 have not distorted local archaeologies which largely remain within the essentially positivist and functionalist culture-history paradigm mixed with the material culture approach common to the Marxist and the Annales School of thought. A larger point discussed is to see how archaeology relates to socioeconomic and political settings in general.

Panel S22
Archaeology under communism: political dimensions of archaeology