Accepted Paper:

The ever moving and undrawable line: objectivism versus subjectivism in archaeology  


Monique Boddington

Paper short abstract:

This paper covers the ongoing debate in archaeology between objectivity and subjectivity. Looking into why this divide continues and explain why it is so difficult, given the nature of archaeology, to reconcile these two sides.

Paper long abstract:

Within archaeology there has been an ongoing divide between the objective and subjective, post-processual versus processual. One comes from the need to be archaeologists, to make statements about the past and the other comes from an ethical concern that different voices need to be heard. Theoretical changes have partly arisen out of a concern regarding the ethical nature of knowledge construction in archaeology but it remains that what is emancipatory to many groups hinders the archaeologist. Archaeology is now viewed as a political tool but it remains uncertain how to deal with this debate.

In this paper I would like to define both sides of this and discuss why archaeology has these two faces. How this comes from not only epistemological concerns but also ontological ones. The problem remains that archaeologists aim towards an understanding of the past but this is always situated within a political and social context. The current epistemological position makes this very difficult and I will show why it is so difficult to reconcile these two sides, how currently rather than an explicit epistemological approach we instead draw lines in the sand, dangerously, where some voices appear more equal than others.

Panel S14
Drawing epistemological lines in the sand