Edited by Lynn Meskell, Stanford University
“Cosmopolitan Archaeologies challenges cherished assumptions about the practice of archaeology and the shaping and implications of interpretation. Drawing on recent work in the Americas, Australia, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, the authors show how the past is understood in the present and how dispensations of power generate ethics of practice. Through closely argued exemplars, they show how broad interpretations are shaped in the cauldron of the local, and how the global must be understood from within the framework of diverse communities. The result is a book that serves as a signpost for the front line of archaeological interpretation for the coming decade.”—Martin Hall, University of Salford
“Approaches to the ownership of archaeological remains range from smug neocolonial assertions of entitlement to bitter recriminations against even well-intentioned scholars for their alleged (and often real) elision of contemporary local societies. In this unedifying rogues’ gallery, a small but growing group of thoughtful exceptions stands out. Actively representative of the new and critically important trend, the authors of this highly original collection deploy a nuanced understanding of cosmopolitanism to challenge the old, easy assumptions and to suggest alternative, politically sensitized, and morally generous understandings. Theirs is an urgent call to accept the challenge of complexity, especially where cultural ethics are concerned. It is also a deeply serious call to rethink the place, indeed the value, of archaeology in a world where bigotry and violence still threaten the very future of humankind.”—Michael Herzfeld, author of Evicted from Eternity: The Restructuring of Modern Rome
An important collection, Cosmopolitan Archaeologies delves into the politics of contemporary archaeology in an increasingly complex international environment. The contributors explore the implications of applying the cosmopolitan ideals of obligations to others and respect for cultural difference to archaeological practice, showing that those ethics increasingly demand the rethinking of research agendas. While cosmopolitan archaeologies must be practiced in contextually specific ways, what unites and defines them is archaeologists’ acceptance of responsibility for the repercussions of their projects, and their undertaking of heritage practices attentive to the concerns of the living communities with whom they work. These concerns may require archaeologists to address the impact of war, the political and economic depredations of past regimes, the livelihoods of those living near archaeological sites, or the incursions of transnational companies and institutions. The contributors provide nuanced assessments of the ethical implications of the discursive production, consumption, and governing of other people’s pasts.
DUKE UNIVERSITY PRESS
Jun 2009 304pp
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