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I am not
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sábado, 27 de dezembro de 2008

Archaeologists as contemporary critical thinkers



Archaeologists as contemporary critical thinkers



Right from the beginning of archaeology as a “science” (19th century), its protagonists, like any other social scientists, tried to elaborate a “theory” of “man” and of “society”. Implicitly or explicitly, this “theory” is, and always was, meshed with any “practice”, be it the field work, the production of reports and other texts, or the presentation of “results” to the general public, etc. The vocation of the TAG’s meetings (Theorethical Archaeology Group Conferences), for instance, is precisely to make explicit the “theories” that underpin many aspects of the archaeological work, to trace their history and to delineate its current tendencies in order to make them more apparent and useful.
“Critical theory” - according to a well known book (“The Routledge Companion to Critical Theory”, ed. By Simon Malpas and Paul Wake, 2006), “aims to promote self-reflexive explorations of the experiences we have and the ways in which we make sense of ourselves, our cultures and the world.” (p. IX). In the case of archaeology, critical thinking does not consist in importing philosophy into archaeology, or in applying this or that theory to our field. It simply aims at maintaining and refreshing the ever existing impulse of archaeology to contribute to a general comprehension of life. This implies that archaeologists, being archaeologists, be also attentive to the modern debates in the other fields of knowledge, namely those debates and inquietudes that lay across our existence after World War II and the crash of communism. What are the contributions that archaeology has made to that dialogue? What is the role of archaeology in a modern politics of knowledge, if we want that the production and diffusion of our work have some effects beyond the purely academic world? That is the challenge of our job, trying to be situated in the interface of archaeology and a politics of knowledge, i.e., in a critical thinking and action.

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