Why stay an archaeologist? What can archaeology offer, and when does inter-disciplinary become just ex-discipline?
Paper short abstract:
Can an archaeologist just starting his research, the product of an inter-disciplinary, post-processual education, in the current pluralistic intellectual environment, and with a research project which defies disciplinary definition, adhere to his hard-earned identity as an archaeologist? Should he?
Paper long abstract:
As academic pluralism becomes widespread, the need for definitions increases. Yet disciplines are never entirely stable nor coherent: 'conventional' practices/methods are ever-evolving. Even in Material-culture studies, an inter-disciplinary space in which collaborative investigations of the material world occurs, disciplinarily differences remain important. It is precisely the collision of these differences which provide alternative perspectives, prompting exciting new research (Hicks 2010), new ways of encountering and engaging (theoretically/methodologically etc.) with the material world. My own research lies outside traditional archaeology, which has prompted me to question what exactly archaeology can offer me as a researcher, whether it would be more productive for me to align myself alongside, say, social anthropology, or attempt to carve my own niche in the complex, ever-shifting inter- or ex-disciplinary grey space? Yet I am reluctant to do so. Is this disciplinary loyalty, the product of years of archaeological teaching and training, of the very institutional(ised) divisions which I question? Or does archaeological practice indeed materialise/temporalise/enact our objects of study in particular ways that is beyond the scope of other disciplines (Filipucci 2010)? This paper will offer an exploration of my own deliberative process; should, or can, I frame my research archaeologically, does adherence to an archaeological identity contribute any epistemological or methodological value to it? These questions raise further issues: does disciplinary ascription provide not just different 'perspectives' on the world, but a decisive act, a decision taken about our own choices in enacting, conceptualising or engaging with the world: in different ways, for different purposes?
Pluralist practices: archaeology is nothing, archaeology is everything