The politics and power of American archaeology - article

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kitesandtrainsandcats
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11 Apr 2017, 6:55 pm

At this point all I have to say is, hmm, interesting.

The politics and power of American archaeology
Archaeologists and anthropologists don’t just study the dynamics of power and politics. They are actively mired in political systems - a position which they need to embrace
https://www.theguardian.com/science/201 ... rchaeology

Quote:
To me, there is no question about our place in the fray. Politics is about the practice of achieving and asserting power. Archaeology and anthropology have long played an important role in both reinforcing and subverting the dominant mythologies upon which such power is built. In many ways modern American Archaeology- focused on the systematic recovery of data to answer research questions about past human behavior- was born out of challenges to nineteenth century justifications for eradicating American Indian populations. As Euro-Americans raced across the north American continent, they found great earthen mounds in the southeast and mid-west that were the remnants of ancient cities like Cahokia.

The politically expedient narrative was that the Native Americans who lived on and among these mounds could not possibly have built them - instead, it was argued that the Native Americans replaced, or even decimated, the original inhabitants. From there it was an easy logical leap that the US was justified in decimating and replacing the Indians themselves.

Easy stories rarely answer all questions, and the debates about who the moundbuilders were continued.


Quote:
Archaeology and anthropology don’t just study dynamics of power and politics, the discipline is actively mired in political systems, which is why so many people feel embattled today. Funding sources, access to archaeological sites or human populations, even ways in which our findings and interpretations are disseminated are all ensconced in political systems. Our work has always been political. We couldn’t put our heads in the sand even if we wanted to.


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techstepgenr8tion
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11 Apr 2017, 9:46 pm

Seems like every discipline that needs grants runs into the problem of who can make money or grab power with this finding. It's part of why I think independent crowd-sourcing really might be worth a shot for those researchers who have budgets that it can meet readily.


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