Accepted Paper:

Authentic archaeology?  


Roger Doonan (Sheffield)

Paper short abstract:

Authenticity is a contentious concept having been endorsed and dismissed equally by academics. Here we seek to establish if ideas of Authenticity are useful in archaeology and whether they can help guide practice so as to better understand where value can be located in 'the' archaeological process.

Paper long abstract:

Postmodernist thought has made the idea of personal authenticity, the idea of being true to one's self, a difficult idea to sustain. Whilst individual authenticity has been a central concern for philosophers from Heidegger to Sartre, it now remains largely unattractive or unresolved. This session seeks to develop ideas of authenticity, not at the individual level, but at the level of practice.

Whilst critics of authenticity have dismissed ideas of an `authentic' self as a delusion this session asks if the idea of institutional authenticity can be used to envalue and guide aspects of practice.

This is not to abandon ideas of personal authenticity entirely. If the challenge to the individual is no longer to find oneself but to create oneself, then can one do so through engaging with authentic institutions. Can we meaningfully ask if archaeology can be true to itself?

One approach maybe to acknowledge the existence of archaeology as signifying the maturity of our species as it is a practice which turns humanity towards itself to explore its relations with itself and the universe whilst being in the world. Can this turning of humanity towards itself establish 'humanness' as a measuring stick of value? Can the idea of 'humanness' be used as a moral imperative which guides practice?

We wish to examine how establishing 'humanness' as a central value in archaeology might contrast with existing institutional practices which prioritise resource management and values grounded in instrumental reasoning that strive for efficiencies and rationality in cultural production.

Panel S03
Who needs experts? Counter mapping cultural heritage